What happens when an AMBER Alert is received?
o AMBER Alert broadcasts have a unique audible signal and vibration. It is intended to indicate the urgency of the message and make the alert accessible to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities. The message will contain a limited number of characters and provide basic information.
o In the case of an AMBER Alert, the message would indicate that an AMBER Alert has been issued for your area and, relevant information about the missing child, and if possible, the abductor and/or vehicle used in the abduction.
How do AMBER Alerts work?
o Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they will decide whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert based on their AMBER Alert program's criteria. They will provide the geographic area where the alert should be issued as well as any available information about the child, abductor, or suspected vehicle used in the abduction.
o Once issued, the alerts are distributed by broadcasters and transportation agencies. They are also sent to NCMEC which redistribute the alerts to a network of secondary distributors that includes internet service providers, digital billboards, truckers, and others.
How are AMBER Alerts distributed to cell phones?
o AMBER Alerts are distributed to cell phones as part of the AMBER Alert program's secondary distribution through the Wireless Emergency Alert program (WEA).
What is the Wireless Emergency Alert program?
o The Wireless Emergency Alert program is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It distributes notifications from authorized federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies that alert customers with capable devices of imminent threats to safety or an emergency situation. The messages are intended as a supplement to the existing Emergency Alert System, which broadcasts alerts over radio and television.
o In addition to AMBER Alerts, the program includes National Weather Service, Presidential, and imminent threat alerts. If you own a capable mobile device, you will automatically receive these alerts when you are in the geographic area where an alert has been issued.
o Because the alerts are sent on a special wireless carrier channel called Cell Broadcast they are not affected by congestion on the voice or SMS text channels. The alerts are transmitted simultaneously to all mobile devices within range of the cellular carrier towers in the affected area. The system does not need to know your mobile number and it does not track your whereabouts; it simply broadcasts the alert, and any mobile devices that can "hear" the alert will display it to the user.
Will wireless customers be charged for Wireless Emergency Alert messages?
o No. Wireless customers will not be charged for the receipt of these messages.
How do I know if my device is Wireless Emergency Alert capable?
o To determine if your mobile device is capable of receiving the alerts, visit www.ctia.org/wea and look for a link for your wireless service provider where you will find a list of mobile devices that will receive the alerts on their network. Also, be sure to ask for a capable device the next time you acquire a new mobile device.
o Look for this symbol on the box
Is it possible to adjust the volume of the Wireless Emergency Alert audible signal?
o If a wireless device is set to vibrate only, users will not hear the audible signal from a Wireless Emergency Alert message. For additional information about adjusting the volume of a specific device or opting out of receiving the alerts, wireless customers should contact their individual wireless service providers.
Where can I go to receive more information if I receive an AMBER Alert on my cell phone?
o If you are notified through a Wireless Emergency Alert message that there is an AMBER Alert in your area, you can consult local media or visit www.missingkids.org/AMBER or www.amberalert.gov for more detail about the AMBER Alert.