Cell Phone Telemarketing Hoax

You may have received an email message that looks something like this. (ESET was just asked about it – thanks to Chris Dale for passing it on.)

Please note: this is, if not an out-and-out hoax, a very misleading message. Don't act upon it until you've read the rest of this article.

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.

REMINDER…..  all 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.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON .. It takes about 20 seconds.   

(Please don't pass it on!)

Actually, it's what I call a semi-hoax: there's a grain of truth in there somewhere, but out-of-date information, a misunderstanding of the terms and purposes of the Wireless 411 directory service (which has never yet actually happened) and the Do Not Call Registry, and an all-too-common propensity to believe anything that's sent out as a chain letter, especially if it's something Bad.

I don't know if anyone has ever sent this out with the intention of misleading, but the advice it contains is of little value and no urgency. Well, the National Do Not Call Registry does exist, and it's not a bad idea to use it – I'm registered with the UK equivalent, though not all marketers respect it. However:

  • there's no deadline for calling, as some of these messages suggest;
  • registration is permanent (not just for five years);
  • the scheme is not due for implementation this month (of course, there's no indication of which month "this month" is, as is usually the case with hoaxes and semi-hoaxes), and there's no indication that it will happen any time in the near future, if at all;
  • The scheme was always intended to be opt-in: the whole telemarketing thing is a red herring.
  • Landline and cellphone numbers can be registered, and you can do it by email as well as on the phone, though the number given seems to be genuine.

Once again, please don't pass this on: it's a chain letter, and contains a great deal of misinformation.

The FTC have published some real information at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/02/dnccellphones.shtm.

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Senior Research Fellow

Author David Harley, ESET

  • telemarketing

    We have noticed something similar in the UK whereby similar hoaxes are becoming more and more common (maybe because people do respond to it – like the nigerian scams from people wanting to deposit £100m in your account).
    Thanks for flagging this up David.

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