The National Do Not Call Registry is a good way to keep your phone number out of telemarketers' calling lists. Many people wonder whether there is a similar protection for cell phone numbers. Find out what you can do to keep your number private.
Register Cell Phones on Do Not Call Lists
While there is not do not call list specific to cell phones, these numbers can be included on the general list. In order to protect yourself from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls, register your cell phone number, along with your home phone number, on the National Do Not Call Registry. Up to three phone numbers can be added at one time, and you must have a valid email in order to register online.
You can also register a cell phone number by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want placed on the registry.
Telemarketers have 31 days to remove your name from lists, so mark the date you first registered on a calendar to keep track of when you can expect unwanted calls to stop. Registration does not expire.
Telephone Consumers Protection Act
The federal law known as the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA), first passed in 1991 and revised in 2003, has rules in place to protect cell phone users from receiving telemarketing phone calls.
In 47 U.S.C. § 227, the law states that it's prohibited for cell phone users to receive automated dialed telemarketing calls. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including calls made for emergency purposes and those made by tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.
Keep in mind that rules protecting you from receiving calls on your cell phone do not apply if you give consent to use the phone number to a company or an organization and its affiliates. Consent means you have given the company permission to call you. This is often done when you give out your cell phone number for contact purposes, or as part of personal information when applying for service or lines of credit. Make sure you understand any written document or verbal agreement that requires you to give out your phone number before you sign or agree.
State Laws and Lists
In addition to the federal laws and regulations, many states passed their own laws similar to the TCPA and maintain no call lists for residential and cell phones. Check with your state's attorney general or consumer advocate office to find out what further restrictions are in place where you live.
Telemarketing Company Ethical Rules
Many marketing organizations consider it a poor business practice to call mobile phone users who have not consented to receive such calls. For example, the Direct Marketing Association's Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices state that member companies should not call a cell phone unless knowing consent was given before to the call.
Many companies maintain their own do not call lists internally. If you receive a call from a company that you'd prefer not to hear from, ask that your number be placed on their list.
Cell Phone Telemarketing Rumors
Rumors abound on the Internet about ways telemarketers have of contacting you on your cell phone. Separate truth from myth before you pass these emails or social networking messages on.
Registration Date Myth
Many forwarded messages include a date that you must register your phone by in order to be protected from telemarketing messages. Examples of these messages can be seen on Snopes.com. The truth is that you do not need to register your phone number by a certain date, and the registration does not expire.
Cell Phone Directory Myth
Another common rumor is that a wireless 411 directory is going to make it easy to locate cell phone numbers by making them public and/or giving them to telemarketers. This is also false. As of 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that the idea is just in development stages, and that all laws will still apply with regards to cell phone telemarketing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also points out that those developing the 411 registry would require consent from anyone who wants to be included on the list and that such a list will not be made available to telemarketers.
Latest Protections for Cell Users
The latest protections for cell phone users comes from an interpretation of the TCPA regarding debt collectors who use automated services and those who feel they should be held to the same standards as other telemarketing companies. This means consumers should not have to put up with calls from automated debt collection agencies on their mobile phones.
Guard Your Cell Number
The best way to keep from getting unwanted solicitations on your cell phone is to only give your number out to friends and family. Decline to give companies your cell number, and include your cell on the National Do Not Call Registry for additional protection. Keep your lines free and your number private.