In 2021, there were more than 600,000 reports of scams that occurred through phone contacts. The reason for this is very obvious since phone numbers reveal sensitive information that hackers can use to defraud unsuspecting telephone users. Unfortunately, data breaches make it almost impossible to protect your personal number from online scammers.
What you can do to avoid phone scams and phishing is to set up a secret number. Unlike a personal telephone number, a secret number contains little or no confidential details about you. With a secret number, you are mostly safe from any manipulative activities of online fraudsters.
You can use secret numbers as temporary business numbers, one-time numbers for signing up on new apps, or disposable numbers for dating apps. Having a secret number is important for two basic reasons: to maintain privacy and online anonymity.
It is difficult to maintain privacy once you give out a personal number to every person you meet in a restaurant, cinema, or online. You may get too many calls, texts, or robocalls from strangers. To keep your activities private, give secret numbers to strangers while you preserve your private number for only close friends and relatives. This way, it is difficult for strangers to hack into your phone and monitor what you do.
You also need a secret number to remain anonymous on the internet, which is quite the task in today's world. Each webpage you visit and hyperlink you click on generates tracked and logged data. While some people often resort to VPNs, several reports reveal that this may not be the ideal option. For instance, a research study on 283 VPNs shows that 82% request permission to access confidential information on the user's device. Unfortunately, many free VPNs sell user information to private companies. A secret phone number can help you stay online without hackers gaining access to your private data.
With access to your phone number, fraudsters and hackers can carry out fraudulent activities. Some of these include:
Due to increasingly innovative techniques used by fraudsters, avoiding unwanted scam calls and messages is often challenging if your private number is online. Some basic steps to reduce strange communications include adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry and installing a reverse phone lookup app. However, the best preventive measure is to set up a secret number. Here are a few ways to obtain a secret number:
Although getting a second phone number is a simple way to maintain anonymity, it is not entirely safe. Note that a second line would still be connected to basic information about you, including your name and address. However, you can use the second phone number to open temporary social accounts and recover passwords. Afterward, keep it locked up in an office or safe place to avoid unwanted calls or messages. This way, scammers will find it difficult to track or monitor your activities. If your phone is missing or stolen, your data and social accounts are still secure.
People often use a second phone number with a burner phone. Burner phones are inexpensive prepaid mobile phones ideal for temporary use. In the past, people purchased burner phones with cash to eliminate any form of paper trail that might link the telephone number to the buyer.
However, hackers can still track a burner phone especially when not used properly. Burner phones are ideal for online dating, conducting business, or accessing certain accounts. To maintain your privacy, here are some dos and don'ts of using burner phones:
Rather than use conventional burner phones, a safer option to consider is virtual phone number apps. These apps provide a temporary phone number you can use to make calls from your personal phone. Virtual phone numbers are typically used to forward messages or incoming calls to another number, such as a landline or mobile number.
Phone number apps generate fake US numbers regardless of where you are at that moment. All incoming calls and messages will be diverted to the virtual number without revealing your current location. Furthermore, you don't have to purchase a sim card, additional cable, or hardware to start using a virtual phone number. Once you download a virtual phone number app, you can subscribe and start making calls anonymously on the same mobile device.
Examples of apps that allow you to create alternate phone numbers include Burner, Hushed, and TextNow. The subscription on these apps ranges from $3.99/month to more than $100/year. These applications allow you to rent a number because you cannot use the secret number if you cancel the subscription or your payment defaults. In general, virtual phone number apps are ideal for unimportant social accounts or to increase your anonymity. Although it can help you maintain online anonymity, a virtual phone number is only suitable for temporary use.
VoIP allows you to make calls or receive messages over an internet connection. You will get a virtual number with VoIP technology, similar to phone number apps. However, unlike burner apps, you won't need a telecom provider to communicate with people. Another difference between VoIP-based numbers and virtual phone numbers is that virtual phone numbers may be safer. Since VoIP services require that calls are made over the internet, fraudsters can track and still monitor your activity.
VOIP technology provides virtual phone numbers, which you can use for a longer period while still maintaining your privacy online. An example of a VoIP-based service is Google Voice. Note that VoIP calling features may be unreliable if your internet connection is poor. Furthermore, some phone number apps, like Burner, also provide VoIP services.