You don’t have to be a wanted criminal or international man of mystery to need a temporary phone number. You could want to avoid marketing calls, provide mobile verification without giving out your real number or want a degree of security for online dating or a Craigslist listing. The reasons are many and varied and some more benign than others.
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Most social networks and many websites that use two-factor authentication require a phone number. That’s fine if you don’t mind the world knowing your cell. If you prefer a little more privacy, a temporary phone number could help. Apply for insurance and you have to give a phone number, use a job website and they will want a phone number, staying in a different city for a few weeks, you will want a local temporary phone number.
It seems there are enough people out there who want a temporary phone number to warrant a few services that offer exactly that. They all cost money, but not a great deal, around $5 a month on average. Here are some of those services.
Burner has to be the best-known way to get a temporary phone number. It’s a phone app that works in Canada and the U.S. and provides a second phone number for your existing phone. It uses real phone numbers, as opposed to VoIP numbers, so you can use it for any verification or purpose you require. It offers voice, text and voicemail too.
After a free trial, Burner is $4.99 a month. You choose a number and can keep it for as long as you like. When you’re done with it, press a button in the app and the number is burned. Choose another and you’re good to go.
Google Voice is a free-for-all unified communications solution. A single number can be set up to ring all your phones, mobile and landline. You select a number local to your city, tell it where to divert to and away you go. You can also call and text out and use the number as you see fit.
There are rumors that Google Voice is going to be retired but it hasn’t happened yet so this is a viable way to get another number. It’s free too as long as you live in the U.S. Google Voice is not available outside the States.
I had never heard of Hushed but someone suggested it when I was canvassing for input for this article. It works a bit like Burner but with a lot more coverage. With access to 40 countries and some neat features, Hushed is definitely an app to consider.
It costs $3.99 a month for moderate usage and has a couple of extra security features. Texts can be set to self-destruct, defaults to WiFi so as not to use your minutes where possible and you can use multiple numbers on a single smartphone should you need to.
CoverMe offers temporary phone numbers and so much more. If you’re concerned about security or surveillance, this is an app to try. It not only provides a temporary number, it also uses military-grade encryption for calls, offers self-destructing texts, private file sharing and a private vault installed on your phone to keep things safe.
The downside is that encryption requires both parties to use CoverMe. All calls are routed between two networks regardless of whether they are encrypted or not. This alone would make surveillance almost impossible. Call using CoverMe do not appear on itemized bills and there is even a decoy password available as well as a real one.
Line2 is a more lifestyle oriented service than the previous options. It extolls the virtues of having a cloud phone number attached to your real phone number. It offers both business and personal plans that include a U.S. or Canadian phone number, inclusive SMS and voice minutes and the ability to use the number on a cellphone and desktop computer.
It is $8.30 a month for start but you get unlimited texts, 5000 minutes, a new number, LTE compatibility, group calling and messaging and some competitive international call rates. There are no security options like those in CoverMe or Burner but as a legit second line, it delivers the goods.
If you’re just looking for a temporary phone number to use for a while, all of these services offer just that. A couple offer a whole lot more too which may offer some people more security than they need but are still neat features to have.
Know of any other good ways to get a temporary phone number? Tell us about them below if you do!