Q. I recently received an e-mail saying that cellphone numbers are being released to telemarketers. True?
A. No. The latest version of that widely distributed e-mail, which I also received, is nearly identical to one that has resurfaced every year or so since 2004. It says you must immediately register your cellphone on the National Do Not Call Registry or else telemarketers can contact you—and you’ll be charged for those calls.
Although the toll-free phone number provided in that e-mail, 1-888-382-1222, is the actual contact number for the Do Not Call list, and you can register cellphones (by calling or registering the number online), it isn’t necessary. Reason: Most telemarketers use automated dialers, and federal regulations prohibit their use on cellphones.
One explanation for the latest onslaught of these misleading e-mails is a surge in scamming text messages sent to cellphones that purport to be from banks and credit unions, saying that accounts or ATM cards have been closed. These “smishing” text messages, which are bogus, instruct recipients to call a toll-free number to “settle the problem.” In fact, they are an effort to glean personal information to conduct identity theft.
Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.