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Cell phone registry not required

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

SIKESTON -- E-mails stating telemarketers would soon start calling cell phones began circulating months ago, but many cell phone users are just now receiving the messages for the first time.

Meanwhile cell phone providers continue to insist there's nothing to worry about.

"Every time there's a new Internet blurb or something on the news, we get flooded by phone calls," said Michelle Lawson, sales associate for ESI in Sikeston.

One e-mail making the circuit starts, "Just a reminder ... in a few weeks, cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls," and goes on to prompt its reader to call the national do-not-call list to prevent being contacted.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to do so. Also it's illegal to use an autodialer to call a wireless telephone without the prior consent of the person being called.

"Obviously a customer would feel more at ease by adding their number to the (do-not-call) list," Lawson said. "Customers will find that is not necessarily something that would be mandatory."

Probably what is confusing the public is the new Wireless 411 Service set to be activated in 2006, the FTC and major cell phone providers said. Wireless 411 will provide cell phone users the choice and the opportunity to list their cell phone numbers in the same nationwide voice 411 service, which is a national directory of cell phone numbers, they use today for their landline phones.

Only customers who specifically request to be included would have their number available for look-up through Wireless 411. Customers who request to be included in the Wireless 411 database would only have their number made available to people who call Wireless 411 and request their specific listing. And customers who take no action would remain as they are today, with their cell phone number unlisted, according to Cingular.

"Unless someone calls in to add a number and gives the person's name, they can't be added to the directory," Lawson pointed out. "And we never allow our customers' phone numbers to be published without their prior consent."

Karen Syre of Homestead Electronics, a Verizon carrier, in Sikeston said under no circumstances is Verizon going to distribute its clients' cell phone numbers to any directory.

Personal cell phone numbers can be added to the National Do-Not-Call Registry either online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888

-382-1222 from the telephone number they wish to register. Registrations become effective within 31 days of signing up and are active for five years.