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Cell phone myths don't ring true

By: Michelle Miller, Journal Staff Writer
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Afraid you'll start receiving telemarketer calls on your cell phone? Don't be ... your number's safe for now. Thanks to false e-mails that have been circulating the Internet in different forms for two years now, cell phone users have been scrambling to sign up to the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid telemarketers. But the Federal Trade Commission, which works to prevent consumer fraud in the marketplace, reiterated Thursday that the e-mail is a hoax. "Consumers should not be concerned that their cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketers in the near future," the commission's press release states. The text of the e-mail usually goes something like this: Cell phone users have a limited amount of time to sign up for the do not call list before the numbers are released to telemarketers, according to the urban legend Web-site, www.snopes.com. Wireless subscribers will have to foot the bill for these calls, the messages caution. The e-mails, which Snopes says usually start circulating in January, also provide the actual phone number and Web site for the National Do Not Call Registry. The warnings of impending telemarketer doom are so believable, many have forwarded them on to friends. "A friend sent me an e-mail about it so I called the (Do Not Call) number from my cell phone and signed up," said Sylvia Edmond, 40, of Meadow Vista. "I didn't know about it so it was very, very interesting. I tend to think cell phones should be private." But after learning the e-mail was a hoax, she was relieved. But Edmond did think it was a little weird to learn the information for the first time in her in-box. "It goes to show you the power of e-mails," she said. The National Do Not Call Registry does accept cell phone numbers, but it is not necessary to sign up your cell phone to be "protected" from telemarketers, according to the FTC. It is illegal for telemarketers to use automated dialers - which are almost exclusively used in the industry - to call cell phone numbers, according to the FTC. There is no separate cell phone "do not call" list and there is no deadline to sign up. If you do receive an unwanted telemarketing call on and you have requested your telephone number be listed in the "do not call" registry, you can file a complaint with the FCC. Alex Frantz, 32, of Chico, also signed up his cell phone number for the "do not call" list after hearing about it on National Public Radio. "That's good," he said. "I was going to switch plans to one that had free incoming calls because of that. Hey, you never know, it could happen." What may be causing the confusion is talk of establishing a national wireless 411 directory. However, this would not be sold to telemarketers and cell phone users would have to opt-in to the directory. However some people, such as Colleen Uhyrek, of Chico, think the cell numbers should remain private. "The beauty of having a cell phone is that people you don't want to get a hold of you can't," she said.