1. What are Wireless AMBERSM Alerts?
Wireless AMBER Alerts are a voluntary partnership among the wireless industry, law-enforcement agencies, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), to distribute AMBER Alerts to wireless customers who opt in to receive the messages and are able to receive text messages on their wireless phones
2. Why were Wireless AMBER AlertsSM created?
Statistics show the first three hours after a child’s abduction are most critical to recovering the child alive. Recognizing that wireless technology can help galvanize communities to assist law enforcement in the search for and safe return of the child, CTIA- The Wireless Association™, its members, its industry partners and The Wireless Foundation are excited and honored to launch the Wireless AMBER Alerts Initiative.
By combining the efforts of the wireless industry with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and law enforcement agencies, the Wireless AMBER Alerts Initiative will be a catalyst for the wireless industry’s more than 182-million wireless subscribers to aid in the safe return of an abducted child.
3. What is the History of the AMBER AlertSM Program?
President Bush authorized the national AMBER Alert program as part of the PROTECT Act signed in 2003. The law formally established the federal government’s role in the AMBER Alert program, appointing the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the agency responsible for coordinating AMBER Alerts on the national level. DOJ has officially partnered with NCMEC, authorizing them as the agent that coordinates and disseminates AMBER Alerts to secondary distributors.
AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and was created in 1997 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to find abducted children. The AMBER Alert Program was soon adopted across the nation and is a legacy to Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then murdered.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), more than 200 children have been recovered since the AMBER Alert program began in 1996. More than 80 percent of the total numbers of successful recoveries to date have occurred since October 2002, when the AMBER Alert program became a coordinated, national effort. For more information, visit the NCMEC website www.missingkids.com
4. What will trigger a Wireless AMBER AlertSM to customers?
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) will initiate the transmission of AMBER Alerts to wireless carriers after law enforcement has issued the alert and the following criteria, recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice, has been met:
There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that abduction has occurred.
The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger.
The law-enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
5. How do Wireless AMBER AlertsSM work?
An abducted child, age 17 years or younger, is reported to a local law enforcement agency.
If the abducted child case meets the recommended criteria, law enforcement issues an AMBER Alert and The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is notified and provided with the information to include in the alert.
NCMEC formats the AMBER Alert message and sends it electronically to Syniverse.
Syniverse sends the AMBER Alert message to participating wireless carriers, including U.S. Cellular.
We then send the AMBER Alert message, in a text message, to customers who have signed up to receive the notices.
6. How do I sign up to receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM?
Sign up at www.wirelessamberalerts.org
. You’ll need to provide your wireless phone number, including area code, and designate up to five zip codes for which you want to receive Wireless AMBER Alerts.
IMPORTANT: The information you provide will be used solely for the Wireless AMBER Alerts and will not be shared with any additional parties.
7. Are Wireless AMBER AlertsSM available in all 50 states?
Yes, Wireless AMBER Alerts will be available, through participating wireless carriers, in all 50 states.
8. How often will I receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM?
Approximately 200-250 AMBER Alerts are activated across the nation each year. You will only receive an AMBER Alert if a notice is sent pertaining to the zip code(s) you designated when you signed up.
9. Will I receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM from all over the country?
No. You will only receive AMBER Alerts if the alerts pertains to the zip code(s) you selected when you signed up.
10. Will I receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM that affect only the specific zip code(s) I select?
Sometimes an alert will be issued statewide or for an entire metropolitan area, which includes one of the five zip code(s) you have selected. So you may receive an alert for an area that is larger than what might be covered by your particular zip code selection.
11. Will I receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM when I’m traveling?
Typically, you will receive Wireless AMBER Alerts when you are out of your home coverage area, just as you receive text messages of any kind when you are traveling. In some instances however your text messages cannot be forwarded to your wireless phone. Regardless of where you are, you will only receive Wireless AMBER Alert notices that pertain to the zip code(s) you selected..
12. I received a Wireless AMBER AlertSM and believe I have relevant information. Who do I contact?
Call the number that appears in the text of the AMBER Alert notice you received to report helpful information. Do not call your wireless carrier or respond back to the AMBER Alert message.
13. An AMBER AlertSM was distributed in my area, but I didn’t receive it. Why?
A vast majority of Wireless AMBER Alerts will be delivered in an expedient fashion. In some cases, factors outside of our control, such as local terrain, weather interference, technical difficulties or systems limitations of other companies could delay or prevent the delivery of AMBER Alert notices. Delivery of Wireless AMBER Alerts is not guaranteed.
14. I need to report a missing child. What should I do?
To report a missing, abducted or lost child, please call your local law enforcement agency or The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST.
15. How do I unsubscribe from receiving Wireless AMBER AlertsSM?
You can unsubscribe to Wireless AMBER Alerts at any time by going to www.wirelessamberalerts.org
. Enter your wireless number and follow the directions to be removed from the wireless AMBER Alert distribution program.
16. If I leave U.S. Cellular and go to another company, will I still receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM through my new company?
No, you must re-subscribe with your new carrier.
17. If I leave U.S. Cellular, then return, will I automatically receive Wireless AMBER AlertsSM through my new company?
No, you must re-subscribe each time you change from one carrier to another.
18. What is the difference between Wireless AMBER AlertsSM and other organizations sending alerts?
Wireless AMBER Alerts is the only wireless industry initiative that is in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the organization authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice to distribute AMBER Alerts after they have been issued by law enforcement. Wireless AMBER Alerts™ is the work of leading wireless industry experts, using state-of-the-art wireless technology.