Let People Call You without Giving Them Your Real Number

By Lee Bellinger / September 28, 2015

That awkward moment when a document, a web form, a retail salesperson, or a stranger you just met asks for your phone number. Do you give out your real number and risk getting unwanted calls/texts? Do you refuse to give it and risk being perceived as rude? Do you lie and give out a bogus number?

Often, none of these options is ideal. Fortunately, you can give out a number that rings to your phone without giving out your actual number.

If you use a landline, then you can set up call forwarding from a “dummy” number that you give out. The number you give out can be a second line, a disposable cell phone, or some other number that isn’t your primary number. You can then have calls automatically go to voice mail or have them forwarded to ring at your real number.

Don’t Get Burned by Unwanted Calls

Smartphone users have more options. Through a mobile phone app called Burner (www.burnerapp.com), you can set up multiple phone numbers that automatically get re-directed to your phone. You give out the re-direct numbers, not your real number (which callers have no way of knowing).

If you start getting unwanted calls or texts from one of the external phone numbers you’ve set up, you simply delete it. Friends and family will still be able to reach you at your main number.

The creators of Burner describe their app as “a privacy layer for your phone.” It’s definitely wise to add privacy layers to your telecommunications, whether through Burner or other services.

You’ll almost certainly have many practical uses for an external throw-away number. For example, when you place a classified ad or other public notice, you can use one of those numbers. You won’t have people looking up the personal information that’s tied to your real phone number.

And you’ll never again have to dread giving out your phone number to retailers, organizations, or government agencies. You’ll have a number to give out – one that can actually be used to reach you. But not the number that’s used by friends, family, and other people you know.

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