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Truth About Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List

You may be one of many consumers who have received emails saying you're about to be assaulted by unwanted telemarketing calls to your wireless phone. Rest assured that placing telemarketing calls to wireless phones is - and always has been - illegal in most cases.

Why the Confusion?

The confusion seems to stem from recent discussions in the wireless phone industry about establishing a wireless 411 phone directory, much like your traditional (wired) 411 phone directory. A number of email campaigns seem to suggest that if your wireless telephone number is listed in a wireless 411 directory, it will be available to telemarketers, and you will start to receive sales calls. In addition, some of these email campaigns suggest that there is a separate do-not-call "cell phone registry," which you must call to have your wireless phone number covered by the do-not-call rules. This information is wrong.

The Facts

At present, a wireless 411 directory is only in the idea stage.

Even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to wireless phones would still be illegal. For example, it is unlawful for any person to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent) using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, mobile telephone service or any service for which the called party is charged for the call. This prohibition applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.

Contrary to what some email campaigns are saying, the federal government does not maintain and is not establishing a separate Do-Not-Call list for wireless phone numbers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established the national Do-Not-Call list to enable consumers to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls to their residential or personal wireless phones.

Wireless phone subscribers have always been able to add their personal wireless phone numbers to the national Do-Not-Call list, either online, or by calling toll-free to 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number they wish to register. The do-not-call rules require callers that are not exempt from the rules to stop telemarketing calls 30 days after you register a number.

There is no deadline for registering a number on the national Do-Not-Call list. There is also no longer any need to re-register a number – it will stay on the national Do-Not-Call list until you cancel your registration or discontinue service.

How to File a Complaint

If you receive an unwanted telemarketing call that you think violates the do-not-call rules, you can file a complaint using an online complaint form. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for TTY; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554.

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, email address, and phone number where you can be reached;
  • the phone number where you received the call, and whether this number is on the national Do-Not-Call list;
  • the date and time of the call;
  • whether the call advertised or sold any property, goods or services;
  • any information (including a caller ID number) to help identify the individual or company whose property, goods or services were being advertised or sold, and whether any of this information was provided during the call;
  • whether you or anyone else in your household gave the caller permission to call;
  • whether you have an established business relationship (EBR) with the caller (specifically, whether you or anyone else in your household made any purchases of property, goods or services from the individual or company that called, or made any inquiry or filed an application with the individual or company prior to receiving the call); and
  • whether you or anyone in your household previously asked the caller or individual or company whose property, goods, or services are being advertised or sold NOT to call, and when you made the request.

For More Information

To learn more about the national Do-Not-Call list and the rules that enforce it, visit the FCC website or the FTC website.

For information about other communications issues, visit the FCC's Consumer website, or contact the FCC's Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.

Print Out

Truth About Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List Guide (pdf)

Updated: October 17, 2014

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