Not too late for cell phone owners

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2004

RALEIGH – Consumers who have heard that their cell phone numbers are about to be released in mass to telemarketers need not worry, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.

&uot;There’s no evidence that massive telemarketing to cell phones is about to start,&uot; Cooper said. &uot;But there are a few cell phone owners who’ve gotten these calls, so to protect yourself you should list your cell phone number in the Do Not Call Registry.&uot;

Recent emails have been widely circulated claim that cellular phone providers are compiling a directory of cellular phone numbers. This directory, the reports claim, will soon be released to telemarketers so they can use the listing to call individuals’ cell phones. The emails also claim that consumers will not be allowed to add their cell phone numbers to the Do Not Call list after either December 15 or December 31, depending on the email.

While some cell phone companies may consider establishing a directory of mobile numbers, no such directory exists currently. Cell phone providers have said that they would seek consumers’ permission before including their numbers in a directory should one be created.

Consumers can continue to add their cell and home phone numbers to the list of those that telemarketers cannot call. There is currently no date after which consumers will be barred from registering their cell phone number. It is also illegal for telemarketers to use autodialers or prerecorded sale pitches when they call cell phone numbers. However, live telemarketers can call cell phones if the number is not listed in the Do Not Call Registry.

Cooper encouraged consumers who are concerned about telemarketing calls that use up precious cell phone minutes and cost the recipient money to place their cell phone number in the Do Not Call Registry. The Registry will continue to accept cell phone numbers as well as home phone numbers.

To sign up for the list, consumers may go to or call 1-888-382-1222. Consumers whose number has been registered for at least three months can file a complaint with Cooper’s office by going to online or calling 1-877-5-NOSCAM. After January 1, 2005, new registrants can file a complaint after only one month on the Registry. Even if consumers are not on the Do Not Call list, they can report prerecorded calls or possible telemarketing fraud to Cooper’s office.

Since its creation last year, more than 2 million North Carolina phone numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call list. Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has handled more than 5,000 Do Not Call complaints from North Carolina consumers, including more than 3,500 written complaints, since October 2003.

Consumer complaints help Cooper stop telemarketers who break the law. Cooper’s office has taken action against 22 telemarketers that made calls to North Carolinians listed on the Registry. Cooper have resolved 12 of those cases, winning more than $140,000 from violators, and is actively pursuing cases and investigations against other companies. Cooper’s office has forced nineteen other companies to stop calling North Carolina consumers because they violated separate telemarketing fraud laws.

&uot;One of the benefits of the Do Not Call list is that people are more cautious about telemarketing sales pitches,&uot; said Cooper. &uot;If your number is on the Registry and you get a call from a telemarketer, you know they’re probably up to no good.&uot;