Friday, November 16, 2012

Is My Cell Phone Really "Going Public"?

Dear Madame L,

I just got an email message from a friend of a friend saying everyone's cell phone is "going public" and we'd better watch out and put our cell phone number on some kind of national registry or else we'll start getting calls from telemarketers and we'll have to pay long-distance charges for these calls and a whole lot of other scary stuff. 

But I got a message like that from a different friend of a different friend a couple of years ago, so I'm wondering if this is true.



Dear Averse,

Madame L just now did what your friend-of-a-friend could have done before forwarding that message: she checked online and found the following:

According to the Urban Legends website, "This online rumor has been circulating continuously since September 2004. Despite a very small grain of truth at its core, it's mostly false, outdated, and misleading."

In fact, cell phone numbers aren't about to "go public," which was what people were worried about when some wireless phone companies said they were going to establish a universal cell phone directory. (And even if that had happened, it was only going to be available to people who called a directory assistance number, and was only going to give cell phone numbers of customers who agreed to have their numbers listed.) 

Still, if you want to keep from getting telemarketing calls, you can add your cell phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. 

Madame L recommends that you go to that government website to check out all the information they provide there, and hopes you'll continue to ask her these kinds of questions, instead of forwarding those emails from those well-intentioned friends.

By the way, you can check out urban legends yourself at Madame L's favorite urban-legends-fact-checking site,


Madame L

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