Intelius, a Bellevue startup that launched online directory assistance for cellphone numbers, has shut down the service after complaints...
NEW YORK — Intelius, a Bellevue startup that launched online directory assistance for cellphone numbers, has shut down the service after complaints from consumers and Verizon Wireless.
Intelius had 90 million numbers in its database, according to its Web site, and was selling them for $15 each to anyone who had a name and wanted a number.
The company said in a statement released Friday that it had discontinued the directory service due to “consumer feedback.”
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Several media outlets had publicized the directory last week.
Verizon Wireless called on Intelius last week to stop selling numbers.
“This is a violation of Americans’ privacy. People expect their cellphone numbers to remain private,” Steve Zipperstein, Verizon Wireless’ general counsel, said in the statement.
Intelius still operates a reverse cellphone lookup, which reveals the name of the subscriber for a given number.
Several other Web sites offer the same service.
Intelius also conducts background checks, people searches and sells records on property and neighborhoods.
The cellular industry organization CTIA attempted to create a cellphone directory but abandoned the effort a few years ago after opposition from consumers and legislators.
Liz Murray, Intelius communications manager, said the company had developed the directory it is now shuttering because people are increasingly abandoning landlines in favor of cellphones.
“We realize that in this instance, we may have been ahead of our time,” Murray said.
The company never planned to sell numbers in bulk to businesses, she said.
Federal law already prohibits telemarketers from calling cellphones.
Murray would not say how Intelius obtained the numbers or how large a share of Intelius revenue the sales represented, citing the “quiet period” associated with the company’s planned initial public offering of stock.
The IPO could be worth up to $143.8 million, according to documents filed in January.
The IPO filing notes the company is the subject of a Federal Trade Commission investigation regarding Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance.
The chief executive of Intelius, Naveen Jain, also founded InfoSpace, an Internet search and directory company that soared during the dot-com frenzy, then crashed.