7 Ways Telemarketers Get Your Cell Phone Number

If you’re in the shrinking pool of people who still have a land line, you’re most likely inundated with calls from telemarketers. But your cell phone is different, right? Right?!

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If you’re in the shrinking pool of people who still have a land line, you’re most likely inundated with calls from telemarketers.

But your cell phone is different, right? You may have registered on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry and maybe you know regulations exist that limit the ways debt collectors and companies selling things can pester you on your cell phone.

That kind of thinking isn’t grounded in reality and, unfortunately, a growing number of telemarketing companies don’t care about lists and legislation and will harass you with unwanted calls and texts on your mobile phone anyway. In fact, one tech analyst recently estimated as many as 100 billion robocalls—those lacking a human being on the other end—and other solicitations are made to cell phones in the U.S. every year.

But how do telemarketers get your phone number anyway? You might be surprised.

1. You overshare your number

Anytime you fill out a form and give out your phone number—whether it’s a contest entry, a warranty registration, a signup form for an online service, what you include on your social networking profile—you’re opening yourself up for solicitations. Or, think about how many retailers have your number because you want loyalty points to score discounts or in-store credit.

Even putting your phone number in your email signature can put you at risk.

“Anywhere you’re entering your number on a form or anywhere that you’re supplying your information, there is a chance that that number is going to end up in someone else’s hands, whether or not the policy is stating that you’re protected or not,” says Jonathan Sasse, acting CMO of PrivacyStar, an app that lets you block numbers on your Android smartphone as well as report abusers to the government.

2. You accept Terms of Use without reading or understanding them

Sasse says a growing number of mobile apps—things like flashlight utilities or games—are really only interested in harvesting your personal information and selling it.

“It becomes a scraping device, whether it’s your contacts or the information you used when you signed up. There’s a lot of information that you’re providing when you say ‘Yes, I accept whatever terms you just put in front of me,’” he says.

3. Big data has killed privacy.

In case you don’t know what “big data” is, here’s a brief primer.

Basically, we live in an age where computers are so smart and fast they can crawl the web and look at billions of data points instantly. In a blink they can look at everything you Likepin or tweet. They can mine census data and other public records, such as how much you paid for your house and whether or not it was ever foreclosed upon. Just search for yourself on Pipl.com—you’ll be amazed at the number of companies that claim to have information about your family, income, phone number and much, much more.

Again, the more information you share online, the easier it’s going to be for someone to get your mobile number.

4. Technology can dial zillions of random numbers like it’s nothing

We’ve all received calls that don’t have another human on the other end. Not only is the recording automated, oftentimes so is the process of finding your number. According to PrivacyStar, automatic dialing devices can figure out and call all possible phone number combinations, including unlisted and mobile numbers.

5. Automatic Number Identification can also sabotage you

According to PrivacyStar, when you call 800, 888, and 900 numbers your phone number can be captured by a system called “Automatic Number Identification” or ANI. ANI automatically identifies and stores your number and matches it with other online digital markers associated with you. (See the big data section above.)

6. The credit bureaus give away your information

Before you get mad at them for spilling so much of your personal information, remember—you’re the one who agreed to sign up for that department-store credit card so as to receive 25% off.

7. Charities take all the fun out of being philanthropic

Don’t you hate it when you give $10 to some charity that’s been hounding you only to have it double down on trying to get even more money from you? The few bucks you gave it are completely eaten up in its marketing efforts to get deeper access to your wallet.

Blame the third-party telemarketing companies the charities hire to collect funds on their behalf. According to PrivacyStar, “The telemarketers keep a percentage of whatever they collect, turning over the rest of your donation to the charity. However, the telemarketers also keep your personal information, from which they can profit exponentially as they sell and resell it to other telemarketing companies.”

What to do about it

First, be smart about accepting Terms of Use when it comes to apps you’re downloading onto your smartphone. Does a flashlight utility really need access to your call logs?

And, while some telemarketers don’t heed it, many do—register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Even better, use a fake or alternate number if you absolutely must sign up for a loyalty program or contest. And there’s simply no reason you need to post your phone number on Facebook or your Google profile. The people who you want to hear from already have your number.

Also, make sure to install on your phone an app that will block numbers from texting and calling you.

This article was written by Christina DesMarais and originally appeared on Techlicious.
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9 comments
RuthSimmons
RuthSimmons

I certainly agree with the author. The possible ways mentioned in the article are the same reasons I have observed from the complaints posted at Callercenter.com.


RickFromTexas
RickFromTexas like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I report every unsolicited sales call I get because I'm on the Do Not Call registry. I don't get a ton of these calls but I figure if enough people complain, the powers that be will resolve the problem by going after whoever called.

DanFromParma
DanFromParma

I tell everyone. Use google voice. Mutiple reasons for this.

1). You can choose an area code that will not allow anyone to know exactly where you live.

2). The google voice works by forwarding phone calls to what ever phone you want.

3). If you have a smart phone, you can download the google voice app so that nobody ever see's your real number.

4). If tyou get a call from a teli marketer, you can go to the google voice web site and mark that call to be blocked.  This is unlimited on how many you can block.  And the next time that blocked number calls, they will receive a message that this number is no longer in service.


Google voice is free and solves tons of issues lik what is described in this article.

JackKennedy1
JackKennedy1

Signing up for a credit card doesn't mean you give away your privacy, dodo. Sorry u so brainwashed.

John_Kuhn
John_Kuhn like.author.displayName 1 Like

@JackKennedy1 Sorry, you're incorrect.  Signing up for a credit card does allow the card company to share your information.  It is necessary by definition (how else would they verify who bought what?).  They are allowed to share your personal information as required by law to conduct the business you ask them to do when you buy things.  There are also often some things hidden in the fine print about sharing information with their partners to "provide additional services" or other clauses like that.  That's how they can justify offering you another credit card - you buy from X department store, so of course you'd be interested in discounts from them, right?

Be sure to read that fine print - it can really come back to bite you.

epenguin
epenguin like.author.displayName 1 Like

@JackKennedy1 or checking your credit.  They never ever sell your information.  Any interest in buying a bridge for cheap?

spookiewon
spookiewon like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@JackKennedy1 Join us here in the 21st century. It doesn't mean you AGREED TO give up your privacy, but it effectively means you did.

jbrasco
jbrasco

One problem with the installing app part, that isn't an option on iOS, unless you jailbreak your phone. Also, you don't need an app for that on Android, it is a native feature. I use to store all the unwanted numbers under a contact called DPU (Don't Pick Up). I have over 50 numbers in that one contact alone. Then there is an option to enable called "send to voicemail". The only app I ever used was Mr. Number, that one would pick up the call and hang up on them, so they couldn't leave a message. 

As an iPhone user, that is my biggest complaint. No way to block numbers and Verizon only lets us block 5 numbers, which is a joke. These robocallers have thousands of numbers they use. 

spookiewon
spookiewon

@jbrasco Well, Google Voice works for iPhone as well, and you can block as many callers as you like. I block every unsolicited call I get and have over 200 blocked numbers. Blocked callers get a "no longer in service" message rather than getting sent to your voicemail. And you don't have to jailbreak to install Google Voice, either, it's available in the App Store.