Burner Phone

Everyone needs a burner phone number

Your phone number is an incredibly sensitive piece of data. It’s a unique string of digits linked to other highly personal information found in public records including your full name, home address, the names of your relatives and even your criminal record (if you have one).

A phone number also is likely to stay attached to you for many years because it’s such a hassle to get a new one and share it with all of your contacts. (I, for one, have had the same cellphone number for more than 15 years.)
That’s why everyone can benefit from having a burner phone number that you share with people and entities you don’t fully trust. The simplest free option is to sign up for a Google Voice account. There, you pick an area code and choose from a list of phone numbers. You can even set it up to forward calls and text messages to your real phone number.

I recently had a number of situations in which a burner phone number came in handy:

  • A retail store cashier asked me for my phone number to join a membership program and get a discount. To avoid getting spam from the retailer, I provided my burner.
  • I put an ad on Craigslist to sell something. Instead of publicly posting my real number for people to call and ask questions, I shared the Google Voice digits.
  • I downloaded a free app that asked for my phone number when I signed up. It felt unnecessary to share that information with the app because it didn’t require my phone number to work. I provided my burner instead.

The beauty of a burner is that if someone abuses it, you can get rid of it and create a new set of digits. Who wouldn’t want one?

Source: NY Times