Cell Numbers Going Public: Phone Scam Overview

Due to privacy concerns many people don't want to have their phone number listed, in the U.S. only landline phone numbers are published by the telephone carriers. Cell phone numbers are not public, but many times they do wind up in cell phone directories. If you have your cell number in a social media profile, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, the number could be public depending on the privacy settings of the account.

In addition, if you've taken a survey or given your number to a retailer it may be later sold to third-parties which collect data. There are many ways in which cell phone numbers can end up online, however, one thing that is for sure is that telephone carriers are not going to publish cell numbers anytime in the near future. This is one common phone scam that everyone should be aware of.

Initial Contact

This phone scam can start with an email, phone call, or even a text. The scammer will inform you that in the near future all cell phone numbers will become publicly listed. Telemarketers, phone scammers, angry exes, or even stalkers will be able to easily look up your cell number and contact you. The thought of this make cause panic, this is how the caller takes advantage of their victim.

Once you have been informed that your cell phone number is about to go public, the caller will offer a solution. There is a special registry that they can add you to in order to prevent your number from going public. They will then ask for personal information to confirm your identity, as well as your credit card information, and inform you that there is a small one time payment to have your number added to the registry.

If the contact is made via email or text it will include a link. If you click the link you will be brought to a site that requests information such as Social Security number and other sensitive information. Not only will the scammers gain access to your personal information but the site may also infect your device with malware.

Keeping Your Information Safe

The first thing you need to remember when contacted by someone claiming that your cell phone number will be published is that cell phone numbers are not going public. This is simply a scare tactic that scammers use to make people panic and turn over sensitive information.

This scam is not to be confused with the actual National Do Not Call Registry that is legitimate although not effective against law-breaking robodialers and phone scammers. However, if you have not already added your number to this registry it can help reduce the amount of spam calls you receive, any companies that break the rules of the Do Not Call Registry are served with a hefty fine.

Another way to keep your information safe is to remove it from social profile and not give it when checking out at a store or filling in a survey. It's also important to look at the fine print on apps, CallerSmart does not rent, sell, share or trade personal information with third party companies, however some other apps may sell or share information with third parties. It's important to check your phone's settings and look at the information you are sharing with the apps you have downloaded and routinely run an online search of your name or phone number.

Many websites make it easy to opt-out your information if you do not want it to be online. 

Stopping the Scammers

If you've been contacted by someone stating that your cell phone number will be made public you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also report the harassing number in CallerSmart's community phone book. By running a reverse phone lookup on the number you can see if anyone else has been targeted by the same scam and add your feedback to help other users.

You can also search phone numbers on the go and leave your feedback with our free phone number tracing app for iPhone.