Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cell-phone Spam

Today I received an unsolicited commercial pre-recorded message call on my cell phone (from 1-800-219-7425, which apparently belongs to a vehicle warranty telemarketer). I was away from the phone at the time and the pre-recorded message was left on my voicemail (well, part of it was: the voice mail prompt caused the first part of the message to be lost; the voice mail started partway through the pre-recorded message). According to the FCC, if you don't already have a "business relationship" with a company, it is illegal for them to call your wireless phone. REGARDLESS of whether you've listed it on the "do not call" registry (that's intended for your home phone, not your wireless phone). In fact, they (the FCC) have a list of "wireless phone blocks" - that is, prefixes that are associated with wireless numbers, so there's no excuse for an autodialer to call your mobile number. And it's illegal.

Anyway, I did a little research, and found this page which has some additional info and a "link" to the FCC online complaint site (the "link" doesn't work - you have to copy & paste it, and it's an outdated address that is forwarded to the correct site, here). This FCC link is for complaints about unsolicited commercial stuff. You can put your complaint in there - not that you'll get anything back (minutes, time, etc.), but at least the FCC can start compiling info and eventually go after the offender. You can also call your mobile carrier depending on the type of complaint (e.g., sometimes I get "unsolicited commercial e-mail" in the form of text messages on my phone; now, for me, it's simply a nuisance, since I have unlimited text messaging with my plan, but for some it's a chargeable thing since you get charged for every text message).

Just thought I'd share this info in the interest of the public good. Feel free to leave comments or otherwise contact me if you have any questions or anything... not that I necessarily have the answers, but I'll do my best to help.


Anonymous said...

Actually the FCC ban on cell phones was lifted late 2008.

Tony M said...

I believe your information is incorrect. From this (current) FCC web page:

"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."

Also have a look at this FCC page, which mentions that in some states you may bring a law suit against a company violating the do-not-call rules, and "may be awarded $500 in damages or actual monetary loss, whichever is greater" (this amount may be tripled if you can show that the entity willfully and knowingly violated the do-not-call rules).

Tony M said...

PS: this FCC page has FCC headlines for 2008; I did not see anything that looked like lifting a ban on telemarketing calls to cell phones from October through the end of 2008 (or in the few 2009 headlines, either); the two pages from my previous comment are both dated in October of 08, so it seems it is still illegal for telemarketers to contact your mobile phone.