How to Make Private Calls from Your Phone

A vintage telephone.

Many of us hesitate to share our phone number – a valuable piece of our identity – because it’s more than a set of digits. In some cases, they let you log in to your bank accounts, control the locks and devices in a smart home, and act as doorkeepers to scores of websites and apps. What’s more, cyber-criminals have advanced resources at their disposal to take over someone’s mobile account.

In this post, we look at three ways to make private calls without revealing your number. Let’s begin with taking a look at blocking your number from displaying.

1. Use a Blocking Code or Withhold Your Number Before Dialing

For calls that don’t need a permanent solution, you can use a temporary blocking code or withheld number to obfuscate your digits.

However, blocking codes can’t be used to obscure your identity from toll-free numbers. Also, you’re not able to use features such as encrypted texting, and you won’t receive one-time passwords. If either of these are necessary for you, other methods may be a better fit.

If you want to implement a withheld number, you’ll need to know the prefix code. In the US, most leading carriers let you use the prefix *67 before the full phone number you’re calling. AT&T customers should use #31# instead.

A list of dialling codes.

You may find that *67 should work in Canada and some other countries. In the UK, you’ll use 141 as the prefix code, 067 in Spain, 1831 in Australia, 133 in Hong Kong, and 184 in Japan.

If you’re unsure of the country prefix code where you are, a quick web search should pull up the details. You could also head to the website of your provider or carrier, where the information should be available.

2. Use a Virtual Phone Number

Virtual phone numbers give you the flexibility to choose another phone number without owning a second SIM card. They can also disguise your identity by transferring your phone calls from a virtual number.

You can even pass on this “new” number to your contacts if you’re concerned about your privacy day to day. Though, while there are free services offering virtual private numbers, the results are mixed.

Instead, check out Burner and Hushed – two top virtual phone number services.

The Burner home page.

The idea is that these apps reroute your number, so you can stick with the same phone and carrier while keeping unwanted calls at bay. It’s a good permanent solution if you have to pass your number to strangers on a regular basis.

3. Purchase a Skype Number

Voice over IP (VoIP) numbers can also be effective in disguising your identity. A Skype number is one of your prime choices. This is a dedicated phone number that you access through the Skype platform or app.

You’re able to share this unique number as you would a standard one. You can even use it to register with WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and other messaging services.

The only drawback with Skype numbers is that you need Internet access to make a VoIP call. Of course, this isn’t unique to Skype’s service, but it does make the process a semi-permanent solution.

There are a few ways to get a Skype number. The easiest is to head to the dedicated page on the Skype website and run through the steps to get set up.

Purchasing a Skype Number.

Note that there are other approaches you can take outlined on the Skype website.

4. Implement the “Caller ID” Feature of Your Phone

Most smartphones have a Caller ID feature that lets you hide your phone number. This is great as a permanent way to hide your number, but it’s a phone-wide setting that can’t be toggled for individual users in most cases.

To set up Caller ID on iPhone, head to “Settings -> Phone,” then “Show My Caller ID”:

Setting the Caller ID feature on iPhone.

From here, toggle the setting. For Android devices, a Google support ticket outlines the procedure. Be aware that there are minor variations depending on the device you own.

Regardless, you’ll have to open the Voice app. On some Android phones, you may need to click the “Call Settings -> Additional Settings” option. Under Calls and Caller ID, turn “Anonymous Caller ID” to On.

In Summary

Your phone number is now a privileged piece of information. By choosing to keep yours private, you can discourage telemarketers, stalkers, and cyber-criminals from contacting you and showing malicious intent.

We’ve talked about blocking spam calls in the past, so check out that article if you’d like to dig further into the topic. Do you have any tips to keep your phone number private? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tom Rankin Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

12 comments

  1. Therein we have a paradox. The people receiving phone calls want to prevent answering calls from scammers, direct marketers, etc so they use CallerID. The callers want to hide their phone numbers for various reasons. If this trend continues, there will come a time when all phone calls get picked up by an answering machine.

    My family and I screen all our phone calls. If we do not recognize the number, we let the answering machine pick up. With the ability to spoof familiar numbers being wide spread, an answering machine is a must.

    1. [If this trend continues, there will come a time when all phone calls get picked up by an answering machine.]

      Are you kidding me? Even in the past nobody liked to receive calls from strangers. If you’re all that serious to talk to me on the phone, all you have to do is text me first, for example on WhatsApp, Telegram, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook anyone? It does not take even 1 minute to confirm a call with another person, that is if you are living in the modern age which I seriously doubt. Unlike the past you must seek permission before calling someone unless you’re very close to them. That is simply etiquette.

      1. “Even in the past nobody liked to receive calls from strangers.”
        Do not generalize based on your foibles.

        Text? WhatsApp? Facebook? Permission? Etiquette?
        ROTFLMAO! Surely you jest?!

        Etiquette that you just made up to justify your beliefs? LOL!

    2. “If this trend continues, there will come a time when all phone calls get picked up by an answering machine.”

      LOL! I haven’t answered the phone unless I recognize the name/number ever since CallerID became available in Canada in the late 80’s!

      One thing I really miss about answering machines is the ability to monitor the caller as they leave a message, and then if it turned out to be someone you actually wanted to talk to, you could pick up the phone and talk to them. Can’t do that with voicemail on a cell phone :-(

    1. Hi Charles

      Good precaution. However you can always pass on a virtual number to some of your contacts. That way they can still tell it’s you who called them. It feels very real because a paid virtual number is permanent.

      1. “However you can always pass on a virtual number to some of your contacts. ”
        Can a virtual number be spoofed? If so, then it is useless

        1. As can an actual number. But I’d rather have someone spoof my virtual number instead of the real one. For a thief, cloning/lifting a number requires physical access to the phone. But the chances are practically negligible.

          1. “For a thief………”
            I was thinking more along the lines of spoofed numbers used to confuse the recipient into accepting annoying/unwanted phone calls.

          2. “For a thief, cloning/lifting a number requires physical access to the phone.”

            Hardly. Devices that will clone a cell phone number as the phone passes within range have existed almost as long as cell phones have. I remember reading a magazine article a couple of decades ago telling how phone cloners would park by a busy bridge and just rake in the numbers as drivers with cell phones drove across the bridge…they could get hundreds of numbers an hour :-(

  2. Read the article and the comments (as of May 1/21). The article was great. The comments… well, not all that great. My immediate family, though quite wide spread, stays in daily contact by texting – no phone (unless it’s an emergency). The phone – a landline – never gets answered if the caller id isn’t recognized. Numbered ID or “Unknown Number” NEVER get picked up. And we do NOT use an answering machine. You either text us with what the Caller ID will say or it doesn’t get answered – period. (“Hey, Dad, I’m going to call you in a minute with caller ID “xxxxxxxxx”. To I text back, “Go for it, I’m here.” Or, since I will not carry a cell phone, if no answer is returned – they wait.) Simple system but it works for this family. We work on the premise that the phone is there for OUR convenience.
    However, having said all that, The Wife absolutely enjoys answering “Unknown Number” and numbered ID calls to “play” with the caller just for fun. The longest she has kept a caller on is 45 minutes. Her “hobby” in retirement!

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