How Did Telemarketers End Up With Number That Was Changed To Avoid Telemarketers?

A man in California was so fed up with unwanted telemarketing calls (which may be a redundancy) that he finally gave in and changed his number to one that was completely unlisted. Little did he know his actions would only lead to end up on a list of newly changed numbers that was sold to telemarketers.

The man tells the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus that only three days after he changed his number, he got a call from ADT trying to sell him on an alarm for his home.

“I asked how she got my number,” the man tells the Times. “She said she had a list of new and changed numbers.”

He figured that the only way ADT could have gotten his number was from AT&T, which provides his home phone service.

Sure looks like it. But when I contacted the phone giant, Lane Kasselman, a company spokesman, said AT&T would never, ever sell a customer’s number or any other info to marketers.

But a Death Star rep tells Lazarus that it’s impossible, as “AT&T does not sell customer contact information to telemarketers.”

When ADT was asked how it got the number, the home security company was quick to point the finger at yet another party, a company called Budco Holdings.

A rep for Budco clarifies that the company doesn’t buy its lists directly from the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world, but from the directory-assistance services used by the telecoms.

So yes, AT&T is correct in saying it is not involved in the selling of its customers’ numbers, but the communications colossus can’t be ignorant of how this information is ultimately bought and sold.

The AT&T rep tells Lazarus the company is required to hand over numbers to these directory services, and what those services do with the information is up to them:

[O]ur contracts with third-party directory publishers grant them a license only for the purpose of publishing directories, and although we are limited in controlling directory data once it’s public, any such disclosure of listing information for purposes other than directory listings would be a violation of our contract.

While AT&T said you can pay a nominal fee each month to keep your number unlisted, the California customer insists he requested an unlisted number. This means that AT&T failed at keeping that number from being listed or an AT&T staffer failed at fulfilling the customer’s request. Neither is acceptable.

It’s hard to give telemarketers the slip [L.A. Times]