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.
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.
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.
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.
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”:
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.
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!