Recently by Bill Rounds: Keep Your Assets Hidden in PlainSight
A lot of people want to keep their personal information from being public information. That can be a hard thing to do, especially when so much of your data is flowing freely on the world wide web. Your phone number might be stored in phone directories, pizza delivery databases, and all kinds of other internet databases. Do you want to block caller ID from revealing your name and address? Do you want to prevent a reverse phone lookup for your name and address? Following are some of the best ways to protect one of the most important pieces of personal information.
Keep Your Phone Number Private: Unlisted Numbers
You can unlist your phone number from many public databases. In many cases you can request your phone service provider to unlist your phone number. I have previously discussed some of the strategies to unlist your phone number from a lot of other public databases, mostly by contacting the database manager to stop publishing the information. That won’t prevent the number from showing up in other databases or finding its way back into the ones where you have already deleted your phone number.
Google Phone Number and Other Call Forwarding
Although not a perfect method, call forwarding can help you manage which phone number is available to the public. There are lots of free and paid services that will forward calls to any number you want. You can give out one phone number as your public number, and keep another number private. The public number that is call-forwarded won’t be linked directly to your location like a cell phone might, and it allows you to change your private number as often as you want. Plus, you might not need to block caller ID. If you don’t mind constant data mining, a Google phone number through Google voice offers free call forwarding. If you prefer to be a bit more private, FreedomVoice is a good paid service.
Block Caller ID or Use Spoofing
You can block caller ID by dialing *67 (in the US) right before a call or getting your phone service to permanently block caller ID. Spoofcard is a great way to secretly block caller ID. They let you appear to be calling from any number you choose. If you are only protecting your identity during certain calls, either spoofing or blocking caller ID might be good options.
You can always register your phones with a business entity. That is not a fool proof method, since only New Mexico allows anonymous ownership of business entities, but it puts one more layer of protection between your private information and the public.
Pre-Paid Phones Prevent Reverse Phone Lookup
You can get pre-paid cell phones with cash, with no contract, and refill minutes with cash whenever you want. This keeps that phone number unconnected in any way with your name, until you use it, of course. To be extra safe you can change pre-paid phones as often as you want. You can even be extra sneaky and get 2 pre-paid cell phones, give one to your friend, and only communicate with each other over those phones. That way it will be very difficult to tell that you two are chatting it up with each other.
There are lots of reasons why you would want to keep your phone number private. It isn’t as easy as just having an unlisted number anymore. There are lots of ways that phone numbers are made public. Techniques like unlisting your phone number, using call forwarding, business entities, spoofing and even pre-paid cell phones can protect your privacy. The book How To Vanish discusses all of these options in more detail so you can choose the best ones for you.
Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.
Bill Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties.