Several area residents have reported being contacted by the Federal Trade Commission regarding an advisory of an upcoming 411 directory for cellular customers.
In addition, the correspondence alerts cell phone users that their "Do-not-call" registry is about to expire, giving access to their cell phone number to thousands of telemarketers.
"The advisory is completely unfounded and did not come from FTC," said FTC Web Content Manager Todd Dickey.
According to Dickey, rumors of a mobile 411 directory have surfaces since 2004.
"Someone made the wild leap of reasoning that the proposed creation of a cell phone directory was the equivalent of giving cell phone numbers to telemarketers," Dickey said. "This began a chain of wildly inaccurate e-mails warning cell phone users to register with the national do-not-call list in order to prevent this fate."
To begin with, says Dickey, the proposed wireless 411 service was specifically designed to be “opt in” only. Therefore, cellular customers would be included in the directory only if they requested to be added.
“Several wireless companies banded together and hired Qsent, Inc., since purchased by TransUnion, to produce a wireless 411 service,” Dickey said. “The goal was to pool their listings to create a comprehensive directory of customer names and cell phone numbers that would be made available to directory assistance providers.”
According to Dickey, the wireless 411 service still has not seen the light of day and several states have since passed laws requiring wireless carriers to obtain the consent of subscribers before listing them in directories.
“Intelius did offer a free-for-use reverse cell phone number lookup service based on information obtained from non-phone company sources, but it operated that service for a few months before announcing its discontinuation last month,” Dickey said.
Even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to wireless phones would still be illegal, according to Dickey.
“Cellular users can choose to register their cell phone numbers with the national do-not-call registry, but doing so provides only a small additional measure of protection,” Dickey said. “Federal Communications Commission regulations already in place block the bulk of telemarketing calls to cell phones.”
According to Dickey, it is illegal for any person to make any call - other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent - using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, mobile telephone service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call. This prohibition applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.
“Contrary to previous statements, the FTC announced last year that do-not-call registry entries will not expire after five years,” Dickey said.
Contrary to what some of the e-mail campaigns are saying, the federal government does not maintain and is not establishing a separate do-not-call list for wireless phone numbers.
FCC and the FTC established the national do-not-call list to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls .
Anyone who receives an unwanted call that violates the do-not-call rules, should call 1-888-225-5322.