We’ve evolved since burners first came to prominence in spy movies. Now you don’t need to be Jason Bourne or James Bond to use a burner phone. With a cheap prepaid cellphone or simple second number app, you can get a new number easily.
Even if you’re no secret agent, a temporary phone number can help you stay safe online and in real life too.
What is a Burner Phone?
A burner phone is an inexpensive mobile phone purchased for temporary use, after which it is discarded. In the TV show The Wire, for example, they’re the cheap flip phones that the drug dealers use to manage their business.
They’re called “burner” phones because you can “burn” (destroy) them after use.
Burner numbers are designed to be untraceable, which is why you see them a lot in movies and crime dramas—they’re a throwback to a time when your personal information was genuinely private. Back when you could make phone calls and send text messages that were anonymous. And in movies, they’re used pretty frequently for nefarious purposes.
We don’t condone any illegal acts that would require a burner number, but there are tons of valid use-cases in everyday life where a second number could be helpful.
Burner phones are anonymous
With a burner, you are a ghost. Your identity is not known even to the number provider, so there’s no way they could ever leak your personal information.
For online usage, anonymity is key. Many online services require users to register their phone numbers. If you provide your real number, you’ve surrendered some of your valuable privacy for the dubious privileges of online shopping or social media. A burner number is a convenient and easy way to bypass this step. Make sure to keep the number active in case you need to access that account again.
This also applies for any kind of social interaction with someone you don’t know very well. Online dating can be terrifying. Most apps and websites allow you to start talking directly from your profiles. But eventually, you’ll want to take it offline. Keep your new friend at a safe distance by using a disposable phone number until you get more comfortable.
Even if you’re not shopping online or using social media or dating apps, there’s plenty of times you may wish for a second, untraceable number. Any one-off situation when you need to contact someone can call for an extra line.
Burner phones are temporary—if you want them to be
With a throwaway phone, you’re a free agent. There’s no contract to sign, and your personal information is completely hidden. You can use the number for as long as you want. It doesn’t have to be a temporary phone number if you prefer to keep using it! Hang on to your number for personal or business use if you find it’s worth maintaining a second line long-term.
Or you can get rid of it just as soon as you’ve used it for… whatever it was you needed it for in the first place.
For a burner app, simply delete the number, and know that there’s nothing to connect you to your previous calling or messaging history. With a physical phone, you have to go to the trouble of physically destroying the phone, which sounds very cool but is also a giant hassle.
Burner phones are replaceable
We keep saying “burner phone” as if you’re going to get just one, and if you end up with an old-school physical phone that’s probably accurate. But if you go with a burner app, you can get as many numbers as you want!
They’re easily deleted, and easily replaceable. Grab a handful of burner numbers (Hushed numbers start at just $1.99 for a 7 Day Plan Number) for your five new Tinder dates, and when only three work out, just delete the extras or wait for them to expire.
If you decide to go international with your Jame Bond lifestyle, take it to the next level by upgrading to a Worldwide Plan for international calling and texting. Hushed has numbers from more than 40 countries too, so if you’re a true jet-setter, you can easily acquire a local number in a new place.
Use an app, or buy a physical burner phone?
It may seem like a hundred years since you last encountered a pay-as-you-go prepaid phone, but they’re still around and readily accessible. The major drawbacks to using a prepaid phone are as follows:
- They take up space. You have to carry it around with you, and if you’re trying to travel light it can weigh you down; plus, you need a separate charger to maintain your battery-life.
- They have limited coverage. With a physical phone, you’re usually stuck to domestic calling.
- They get expensive — if your burner is used frequently, constant top-up fees add up very quickly.
We’re not saying physical phones are outdated. If you’re technology-phobic, they might be the best option for you to grab a second number. But then, if you hate new technology, you’re probably not reading our blog!
Getting a second number through an app is your best option for a quick, easy and convenient burner. Just download a second number app and add a new temporary number, alongside but entirely separate from your personal phone number.
Because the app doesn’t use contacts, you don’t need to sign up for any recurring payments. There is no recurring phone bill coming to your address every month like the one you receive with your normal cell phone carrier.
How to get an untraceable, secure, secret agent burner
- Download Hushed. It’s available from the Apple Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android)
- Sign up for an account. You do need to enter an email address, but it doesn’t need to be your primary one. You could even use a brand new email address!
- Get a number. You can claim a Free 3 Day Trial Number to get started, but if you want to use a number longer-term (or if you want upgraded features, like international calling/texting), you’ll need to make a purchase,
- Add credit. You can make an in-app purchase for a number using iTunes or Google Play. These purchases will hit your credit card as iTunes/Google Play payments, but won’t show that they were for Hushed. You can also add credit through our online Top-Up feature using credit cards or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to fund your purchases
- Use your number. This is pretty simple, use your number for calls and texts, and picture messages too. You can use it however long you want, and when you’re done with it, burn it
Is it worth it?
A burner number won’t make you a spy any more than a cowboy hat makes you Clint Eastwood, but it’s a start. A burner phone is anonymous, untraceable and replaceable. Upgrading your average smartphone to a dual-number device with a convenient app only makes sense. And with the low cost, plus the fact that you’re not giving up any personal data, there’s nothing to lose.
Adding an extra layer of privacy is always smart, so become anonymous and add security to your life with a burner phone number!