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Do Not Call – Mobile Phones Going Public Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline
Circulating email warns that mobile phone numbers in Australia are “going public” next month and claims that consumers will be charged for calls made to them by telemarketing companies.

Brief Analysis
False – Note however that while the claims in the email about the release of mobile phone numbers are untrue, the “Do Not Call” register itself is real and perfectly legitimate. Read the detailed analysis below for more information.

Example

Subject: RE: MOBILE PHONES – Do Not Call Register!

This is legit

YOUR CHOICE………..

This is for Australian phone numbers!

REMEMBER: Mobile Phone Numbers Go Public next month.

REMINDER all mobile phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

Below is a link where you can enter your phone numbers online to put an end to telemarketing calls

https://www.donotcall.gov.au/

 

Detailed Analysis
According to this widely circulated email warning, mobile phone numbers in Australia are about to be released to telemarketing companies. It claims that consumers will be charged for calls made to them by telemarketers.

However, these claims are untrue. According to a Do Not Call Register staff member that I contacted with regard to the email, the information does not originate with either the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) or the Do Not Call Register Operator. She notes that the The Do Not Call Register Operator has received a number of enquiries about the message and its origin were investigated by the ACMA.

Moreover, the ACMA later published the following consumer alert on its website warning people about the hoax:

Consumer Alert: Viral email with misinformation on release of mobile numbers to telemarketers &: associated mobile charges

 

The ACMA is aware of an email currently circulating providing misinformation about mobile numbers being made ‘public’ in the near future. It advises that as a consequence mobile users will be charged for calls made by telemarketing companies to their mobile service.

 

While the email refers to the Australian Do Not Call Register website, it appears to have originated in North America a number of years ago and has been intermittently circulating since that time. The reference to consumers being ‘charged’ arises from the different charging regime for mobile calls in the USA, where often charges are incurred by mobile phone users for calls they receive. This charging regime does not apply in Australia.

 

The Australian Do Not Call Register has strong mechanisms in place to protect the privacy of registrants. The numbers on the Do Not Call Register are never provided directly to telemarketers.

Consumers can list their Australian fixed line and mobile numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided the numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes, on www.donotcall.gov.au. Consumers can also register by phoning 1300 792 958.

 

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, telemarketers can check their calling lists against the Do Not Call Register. If a telemarketer calls a number on the Do Not Call Register, they may be in breach of the Act, and may face penalties.

 

The ACMA recommends recipients of the email delete it and not forward it on to other email users. A variation of this email was previously circulated during March/April 2009.

Like other warnings of this nature, the message contains no references to back up its claims. The lack of specific and verifiable details in the message is also a characteristic of such bogus warnings. For example, rather than include a specific date for the supposed changes, the message simply claims that they will take place “next month”. If a concrete date was included, the message would obviously become outdated as soon as the date had passed. However, by vaguely referring to “next month”, no deadline is specified and the message is therefore likely to continue circulating for months or even years to come.
In fact, as the following example illustrates, the email is simply a rehashed version of a long running email hoax that targets US cell phone users. Apparently, some prankster has simply altered the original American version of the hoax to fit Australian conditions.

Pass it along…

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public next month.

 

REMINDER…. all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

 

…. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

 

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number

Variants of the US based hoax email have been circulating since 2004. In 2007, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US published information debunking the warnings as hoaxes.

While the claims about the imminent release of mobile phone numbers are untrue, Australian consumers can indeed register their telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register. Users can register both mobile and fixed phones. The Australian Do Not Call Register was launched in May, 2007 and is the responsibility of the ACMA.

Australian consumers who are bothered by telemarketing calls certainly should consider registering their numbers on the Do Not Call Register. However, sending on the misinformation contained in this email forward will serve no good purpose.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer