Monday, February 04, 2008
LET MY CELL PHONE NUMBER ALONE
Most of us consider our cell phone numbers completely private, except to those to whom we give it. The Federal Trade Commission backs us up, making it illegal for telemarketers to use automated dialing devices to call cell phone numbers, which most junk phone companies use to contact us. In my opinion, because of the high incidence of dropped calls, automatic dialing itself should be outlawed. And now there is a company by the name of Intelius Inc., providing an array of services from background checks to people searches, most recently a cell phone directory with 90 million mobile telephone numbers. But according to an MSNBC article, Intelius admitted the public wasn’t ready for a cell phone directory, and pulled the service off the market. Folks, it is time to draw a line on the privacy beach and say…no more. No sooner than a new technology is developed, the predators are there to exploit every facet of it. As an example, Intelius was charging $14.95 to look up subscriber names and cell phone numbers. But ultimately the crooks will have a field day turning your private information into a playground for stealing your identity. We’ve already experienced the e-mail scam that duped many into turning over their cell phone numbers, thinking the FTC was establishing a do-not-call registry. In response to this, a large number of cell phone companies got together and hired a company, Qsent, Inc.—since bought out by one of the big three credit agencies, TransUnion—to produce a wireless 411 service with the stipulation that customers must opt in to be in the directory. It would be available only to the 411 directory assistance service. A news release on the Qsent website starts, “In the future, a new Wireless 411 Service will provide…” so it appears that this idea too is in limbo. In addition to outcries from cell phone users and privacy advocates, Steve Zipperstein, VP and general counsel of Verizon told Intelius, “Stop it. This is a violation of Americans’ privacy. People expect their cell phone numbers to remain private.” But where was Steve when Verizon got involved in the NSA spying incident? And the worst is yet to come. Joseph Ridout of Consumer Action says there is one last example of Intelius’ unresponsiveness to the consumer. In order for the 90 million people to opt out of the company’s data collection scenario, you must make a copy of your driver’s license and mail or fax this to Intelius. This, of course, creates another database including your name, address and driver’s license number; all the ingredients necessary for the bad guys to steal your identity. Some companies never learn.
Posted by Jack Dunning at 7:50 AM