If the Facebook data scandal has taught us anything, it’s that we also need to be vigilant about how social media can be used as a means to capture personal data and spread false information.
Never is that more apparent than when we see that our Grandma Beulah or Aunt May has shared a suspicious post online. Making the rounds of late has been an old Facebook post telling people that “Cell Phone Numbers Go Public Next Month.”
The truth about that fake Facebook post on the Do Not Call list
The message contains a number of untruths, including that you will be charged for telemarketing calls and that you must call a phone number to be removed from the list.
An article in fact-finding site Snopes about the subject says that the rumor may have originated in 2005 around a misunderstanding about the proposed creation of a wireless directory assistance service.
“Someone made the wild leap of reasoning that the proposed creation of a cell phone directory was the equivalent of ‘giving cell phone numbers to telemarketers’ and began the chain of wildly inaccurate e-mails warning cell phone users to register with the National Do Not Call List in order to prevent this fate,” the post says.
After receiving an onslaught of inquiries about the issue, the Federal Trade Commission, one of the government’s consumer protection agencies, put out a statement about the Do Not Call List registry, saying “Congress eliminated the five-year time limit on Do Not Call registrations. Registrations never expire.”
So, if you happen to see this apparently timeless rumor popping up in your News Feed, politely tell Aunt May she might do well to delete it so as not to cause undue concern for her followers.
It’s always good to know the current state of the Do Not Call List, which was created by the FTC in 2003. Here are several things to keep in mind:
6 things to know about the Do Not Call List
- Telemarketing calls to your cell phone numbers have always been and remain illegal in most cases
- Calls from political organizations, charities and survey companies are permitted
- There’s just one Do Not Call Registry, which is operated by the FTC. To register online, go to donotcall.gov and sign up. You’ll be prompted to confirm via email. To register via telephone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236). You must call from the number you want to register
- Both land lines and cell phones are registered on the same database. There is no separate registry
- Once you register your number, there’s no need to re-register. “Once registered, a telephone number stays on the Do Not Call Registry until the registration is canceled or service for the number is discontinued,” the FTC says
- To report a telemarketer, use either the website or phone number listed above. To file a complaint, you’ll need to know the date of the call and the company’s name or phone number. Wayward telemarketers face fines of up to $40,000 for each call