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Solicitors already barred from cell phones

By Ed Brock

John McCory of Hampton says he gets calls from phone solicitors at home all the time, but he hasn't gotten around to signing up for the national "Do Not Call" list.

"I don't know, maybe my wife has," McCory said.

But even though cell phone numbers can also be put on the Federal Trade Commission's list, McCory said he wouldn't bother.

"I never get them on my cell phone," McCory said.

And officials say that's the way it's going to stay, for now at least, despite the message of panic that has lately been making the e-mail rounds.

The e-mail rumor claims that a directory of cell phone numbers is soon to be published that would allow solicitors to waste precious cell phone minutes hawking goods to unwilling consumers.

That's not entirely false, said FTC spokesman Mitch Katz.

"I'm not sure that hoax is the right word," Katz said.

There is a company putting together a "411" of cell phone numbers, but Katz said it's nowhere near completion.

"And consumers will have to opt-in on that," Katz said. "They will have to ask if you want your cell phone number on that."

Also, Federal Communications Commission rules already prohibit solicitors from calling cell phones, so putting one's cell number on the list may make you more comfortable, Katz said, but it's not really necessary.

Morrow Police Chief Charlie Sewell received the rumor in his e-mail.

"When I received it, I verified that it wasn't the case," Sewell said.

Signed into law last year, the Do Not Call Registry is designed to put a stop to most unwanted phone solicitations, though there are some exceptions. To register, go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236). When you register, you will be asked to provide an e-mail address to which a registration confirmation will be sent.

The registration must be confirmed via the e-mail to be completed.

Though not entirely true, the rumor of solicitors calling cell phones seems to be effective in encouraging people to sign up, Katz said. In the approximately three-and-a-half weeks since it began circulating, the number of enlistees soared from 66 million to 81 million.