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Ah, cell phone number directories. Wouldn’t it be nice if they existed? You wouldn’t have to try to keep track of all your friends and family on your current phone (and then figure out how to exchange all that information to a new device every few years). And yet these directories don’t really exist – at least not yet.

As more and more people abandon land line phones and go to a “cell phone only” lifestyle, some cell phone providers are considering options for providing cell phone number directories. However, they are struggling with the need to strike a balance between providing access to information while, at the same time, protecting the privacy of cell phone users. Most cell phone users want to make their number available to friends and family – but not telemarketers.

Why the huge debate? Why not just create cell phone number directories like regular telephone directories? People have clearly resigned themselves to the idea that their land line phone numbers will be made available and, if they choose, they can have their phone number unlisted. However, unlike traditional landline phones, the question of giving everyone access to cell phone numbers has become a significant financial issue – cell phone users are charged for the number of minutes used for incoming and outgoing calls – why on earth would people want to pay to receive telephone solicitations?

Clearly, it’s nearly impossible to achieve the goal of providing number availability only to limited people and only for positive purposes. However, as the debate rages on between the open access folks and the privacy advocates, there are cell phone number directories that you, the every day user, can access.

Unfortunately, the most comprehensive directories, such as www.searchdetective.net and www.abika.com are pay-to-play. If you search on a person or a number, they’ll let you know if they have the information, but you’ll have to pay about $15 to get it. These options might be best in those situations where you REALLY need the information (such as tracking down a family member in an emergency).

Other free cell phone number directories, such as www.mobilephoneno.com and www.411.com have limited phone numbers available and often require you to provide your own number in exchange for any information.

Rather than turn to one of these options, sometimes the best place to start is through a simple Google search. You’ll be surprised at what you find – just enter the name of the person you’re looking for and the word “cell.” If their cell phone number was ever listed at an old or current job, on a social network page or, really anywhere publicly accessible on the Internet, you’ll probably find it.

The important thing to remember about cell phone number directories is that, at present, your phone number is not likely to be placed on one anytime in the near future. While phone companies are struggling with the best ways to provide information, all agree that any cell phone number directories developed must be provided on an “opt-in” basis only. Now the only question is what incentives will be offered by companies building directories in exchange for your digits? You better hold out for something good – that’s valuable information.

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