Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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ASK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Can Telemarketers Call My Cell Phone?

Consumers throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide received e-mails with the disturbing message that said cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222." Variations of this email have been sent since 2003. Don't worry, this message is NOT true. You will not receive a barrage of unwanted calls. The telephone number listed above is the actual toll-free number for the Federal Do Not Call Registry.

Will my cell phone number be given to telemarketers?

It is untrue that your cell phone number will be released to telemarketers.

Is there a law against my cell phone number being released to telemarketers?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers.  Also, the national associations representing telemarketers have stated that their clients do not intend to start calling consumers' cell phones.

Is it true the wireless industry is compiling a list of numbers to be used in a wireless directory?

Yes. Most of the major wireless carriers are developing a list of numbers to be used in a Mobile 411 information directory. However, those numbers will not be published or made available to telemarketers. There is a charge each time "directory assistance" also known as "information" or "411" is accessed by you to obtain a phone number. The proposed directory:

  • Will work like existing 411 systems, allowing consumers to call and request the number of wireless customers whose telephone numbers are listed in the directory.
  • Will require that consumers give their permission ("Opt-In") before their number can appear in the directory, meaning that your number cannot be added to the directory without your consent (Opt-in requires authorization by a consumer 18 years of age or older). 
  • Will NOT be published online or in a phone book and cannot be sold to any third party. 
  • Will allow consumers to remove their telephone number at any time or register complaints.
  • Will offer a privacy policy clearly outlining consumer rights.
  • Does NOT have a deadline by which you must register your cell phone number.

How can I keep my name from being in the wireless directory?

To avoid unwanted telemarketing calls to your cell phone you should:

  • Be sure to check the fine print of your mobile telephone service contract for clauses giving permission to publish your cellular number;
  • Watch for notices concerning the Mobile 411 directory and "Opt-Out" of the list if you don't want your number in the directory when it becomes available; and;
  • List your wireless telephone number on BOTH the Federal "Do Not Call" list and the Pennsylvania "Do Not Call" list by logging on to the Federal Trade Commission website (www.donotcall.gov) and by logging on to Pennsylvania's Do Not Call website. You can also add your telephone number to the list by calling the FTC at 1-888-382-1222 and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General at 1-888-777-3406. Registration is free for both lists.

How long will I remain on the Do Not Call list?

Your registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008. Read more about it at www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/dncfyi.shtm.

Your registration on the Pennsylvania Do Not Call List is valid for 5 years or until the telephone number is disconnected, at which time you will need to re-register.
(Read frequently asked questions, verify your landline and mobile phone are registered or register a line)

Will the state and federal lists stop all unwanted telemarketing calls?

No. The Do Not Call registries do not prevent all unsolicited telephone calls. The following telephone calls are permitted under both laws:

  • A phone call in response to your request;
  • A call regarding an existing debt, contract, or payment; 
  • A call from a company or individual you have done business with during the past 12 month period; 
  • A call from a charitable organization; or, 
  • A call on behalf of a politician or political group.

How do I file a complaint if I receive an unsolicited telephone call after registering for the Do Not Call list?

You can file a complaint if you're on the Pennsylvania Do Not Call list using the online complaint form or call 1-888-777-3406 to obtain a printed complaint form. To file a complaint if you're on the Federal Do Not Call List go to www.donotcall.gov or call the registry's toll-free number at 1-888-382-1222 (for TTY, call 1-866-290-4236).  For more information on the Do Not Call list or telemarketers visit the Do Not Call section of the attorney general's website.