“Can I have your real phone number?” Many of us hesitate to share this valuable piece of our identity because nowadays these are more than just phone numbers. They enable login access to our bank accounts, control the locks and devices in a smart home, and act as doorkeepers to scores of websites and apps.
All this, unfortunately, comes at a time when cyber-criminals have advanced resources at their disposal to take over someone’s mobile account. It is prudent to make your cell phone number “private” or “different” so that it does not appear on the recipient’s caller ID. If a number has to be shared, it does not have to be an original one.
Here are a few ways of doing that. Caller ID invisibility can be temporary or semi-permanent depending on the chosen method.
1. Use a Blocking Code/Withholding Number Before Dialing
If you only call someone once in a while, use a temporary blocking code (withholding number) to disguise the phone number. In the US, all leading carriers support this feature, which works by adding the prefix *67 before the number. For AT&T, the code is separate – #31#.
*67 should work in Canada and a few other countries. In the UK, 141 is the code and 067 in Spain, 1831 in Australia, 133 in Hong Kong and 184 in Japan. There are caller ID blocking codes in many other countries as well. To know yours, check with your carrier support or use a Google search.
You cannot use a blocking code to protect your identity from toll-free numbers. Moreover, you cannot use some of the desirable features such as encrypted texting and receiving one-time passwords. Therefore, check the additional methods below.
2. Use a Virtual Phone Number
We saw earlier that virtual phone numbers give you the flexibility to choose from multiple numbers without owning another SIM card. They can also cleverly disguise your actual phone identity by transferring your phone calls from a virtual number. Burner and Hushed are two highly-rated virtual phone number services.
You can even pass on this “new number” to your contacts. There are many free services offering virtual private numbers, but the results are not very good.
3. Use Skype Number
VoIP numbers such as a Skype number are also effective in disguising your identity. To get a Skype number, you only have to log in to your Skype account and make a purchase in “Features.” It works with older Skype accounts as well as Microsoft credentials. The paid service allows a “unique caller ID” whenever you dial a cellphone or a landline. You can easily share this unique Skype number with your contacts. You can even use it to register with WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and other messaging services.
The only drawback of Skype numbers is that you must always have Internet access to make a VoIP call.
4. Use Caller ID Feature of Your Android Phone/iPhone
Most Android phones and iPhones have a Caller ID feature that allows you to hide the phone number. The procedure is described in a Google support ticket, but there are minor variations depending on the device you own.
In each case, you have to open the voice app. On some Android phones you may need to click “call settings.” This will be followed by “additional settings.” Under calls or “Caller ID,” turn anonymous caller ID to “on.”
In today’s world a phone number is a privileged piece of information, and you’re well within your rights to not share the exact number. By choosing more privacy, you can discourage telemarketers, stalkers, and cyber-criminals.
Do you like to stay anonymous on another person’s caller ID? Let us know in the comments.