State of California California Department of Consumer Affairs

Cellular Phones

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(Business and Professions Code § 17026.1)

Cellular phone retailers may not require the activation of cellular service before selling a cellular phone to any customer. The retailer may not refuse to sell the phone if the customer refuses service with the provider of cellular service for whom the retailer is an agent. This is true even if the retailer sells the phone below cost.

All cellular telephone retailers must post a large conspicuous sign (in lettering no smaller than 36-point type) stating:

Activation of any cellular telephone is not required and the advertised price of any cellular telephone is not contingent upon activation, acceptance, or denial of cellular service by any cellular provider.

The sign must be prominently displayed and visible to consumers and located in that area in each retail location where cellular telephones are displayed and purchased.

Nothing precludes a retailer from limiting the number of cellular telephones that he or she is otherwise required under this subdivision to sell to any singular customer.

Privacy Rights:

Although the Invasion of Privacy Act (Penal Code § 630 et seq.) generally prohibits wiretapping (Penal Code § 631) and interception of any communication over cellular phones (as well as cordless telephones and cellular radios) (Penal Code § 632.7, 632.6, 632.5), advanced radio scanners provide a listener with the technology to listen to cellular (or cordless) phone conversations within a five to twelve mile radius. Even though the law provides for penalties should your communications be intercepted, you should be careful not to discuss financial information on a cellular (or cordless) phone. In addition, law enforcement may still seek a warrant to listen to and record these conversations without your consent.


As of April 26, 1994, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that scanners may not be manufactured or imported which tune into frequencies used by cellular telephones or which can be easily altered to tune to such frequencies. Scanners manufactured prior to 1994 are exempt from this rule.

445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
(888) 225-5322

Contact the California Public Utilities Commission for sales or advertisements involving California residents (purchaser/user only).

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(800) 649-7570
(415) 703-2782

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