Your cell phone number just turned up on a telemarketer's list
7/6/06 update: "jm" writes in the comments that the following post is not exactly correct. Check the Federal Trade Commission for further information. I went ahead and registered my cell phone number anyway. Thanks jm. Oops -- it wasn't jm. It was "anonymous." But I'm plugging jm's Web site anyway.
Starting on 7/1/06, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies.
You will be charged minutes for telemarketing calls.
Take your phone number off of the telemarketing list by contacting the National Do Not Call list: 888-382-1222, http://www.donotcall.gov.
Your name will be removed from the list for five years.
Speaking of getting undesireable phone calls, Lisa's getting weird calls in the wee hours of the morning which sound to me suspiciously like telemarketing calls originating in offshore phone banks where they have their international clocks set wrong.
I recently acquired a new BellSouth phone account. After the phone line was turned on, almost immediately, the phone started ringing off the hook. I hadn't yet connected the answering machine, so I couldn't screen the calls. Nevertheless, I figured I wouldn't know the person calling my phone number -- I never shared the number with anyone I knew.
I guessed the calls were just telemarketing solicits. Well, then the phone just kept ringing, and at odd hours -- like early in the morning -- so I started answering. Strangely enough, no one ever answered on the other end of the line. I started thinking that BellSouth must have immediately sold my phone number to a list company.
Telemarketing companies run like factories with automated dialers that send an answered phone to a worker when they aren't on the line with someone else. If there aren't any workers available to talk to you when you answer, you'll just hear silence on the other end.
I was getting calls five or six times a day -- very annoying. I called BellSouth to ask them to block the number calling me, but the operator told me he didn't have that information. What?!! They always used to know the numbers calling you. He said I'd have to call *69, and then call back BellSouth to tell them what the number is.
Okay ... I played along. I waited for the next time I got a call, answered, and hung up, but when I dialed *69, I got a recorded message telling me that the service wasn't available.
That's when it started to click. I remembered that when I originally called BellSouth to get phone service, the representative kept reading scripts to sell me additional services, or worse, would just add services to my account explaining what they were without asking me if I wanted them. After about ten minutes of this, I just had to tell him to stop selling me things I wasn't interested in buying. I said I just wanted basic no-frills phone service. I guess *69 isn't included in the basic service, so I was SOL.
Meanwhile, the ringing continued. If the phone was nearby, I'd answer, but there was still the empty silence on the other end.
Finally, one night, the phone rang and someone responded when I answered. A woman with a silky voice and a lovely Indian accent wanted to thank me for my time. I politely asked her to cut to the chase and tell me what she was selling.
Guess what she was selling?
BellSouth long distance!!!
I said I was positively not interested, and that I was going to cancel my BellSouth account immediately.
I haven't received any more mysterious phone calls.