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September 12, 2018
Call from an alternative phone number— Using Your Current Phone!
From personal to business, many people have experienced the moment of hesitating to make a call. Do I really want this person to have my personal number? In today’s modern and highly-digital age, privacy is becoming a precious resource. So having an alternative phone number is an important option.
Know this: your safety, your privacy— they matter. You are well within your right to research new ways to protect these.
Enter the Alternate Phone Number
One form of protection growing in popularity is that of alternate numbers. In the past, this typically meant having a separate line or using a pay phone. Unfortunately, separate lines meant new phones, which in turn meant having to shell out hundreds of dollars for a second phone, juggling multiple devices, chargers, accessories and more! Frustrating and costly to say the least.
Now, you can mask your phone or call and text from alternate numbers using one cell phone. The means are many, and their methods vary. Ready to learn more? Keep reading…
No Office Phone? No Problem!
If you work from home for any reason, you don’t need to buy multiple devices to speak with your team or clients. While remote call center jobs may provide a phone, most remote positions require you to provide your own resources.
So, what if you need to call a teammate, but don’t want them to have your private number? You shouldn’t feel pressured to spend hundreds of dollars on a new phone just to separate your business life, especially if you work in a sensitive field with major privacy restrictions.
Using apps or services to protect your personal number is a reasonable way to avoid these concerns. It’s simpler for you, as well, and helps you stay more organized with less hassle.
Masking Your Number
The most known and simplest way to protect your privacy is simply to mask your number. By dialing *67 in the US (other countries use other codes), you can block your number from the receiving party. Some apps and services will cycle temporary numbers or let you rent out a number for a limited amount of time per day.
Masking works well for one-off calls to that person on Craigslist or that potential match for your dating profile. It helps ensure that your private number isn’t being passed around by someone you don’t know.
When you rent a number, it makes it difficult for someone to call you back. However, it can work well for one-off calls and temporary numbers for a conference. While the participants know how to contact you, you don’t need to hand out their numbers to each other in a group call; simply rent a number that everyone can call into.
Alternate Numbers, One Phone
Some companies will let you purchase a secondary number that either rings through an app on your phone, automatically forwards calls to your current phone, or rings through a website. Many of these services also offer options for texting. These services typically come for a low monthly fee; for example, Hushed offers $4.99 per month for unlimited calls and texts through an app that assigns a number. You can even set up a custom voicemail for that number!
Alternate numbers are a great option for remote workers and non-profits that don’t have office space. Instead of having to initiate contact from a new number every so often, you can share your contact information and stay in touch with clients, teammates, supervisors, partners, etc. It offers stability to your clients while still protecting your security and helping you balance personal and business.
Apps vs. Services
When it comes to whether you should use an app or a service, it’s mainly a matter of preference. For those looking to maintain their alternate number, an app makes more sense. You carry your phone with you wherever you go; services limited to websites mean you must be near your computer.
However, if you have an older model phone or are not on a monthly contract, using a website service may be the better option. It could be your phone doesn’t have the memory for an app, or you don’t have access to the App Store or Google Play, or your phone isn’t supported. Website services are also good alternatives if you want to leave your phone available while you are making a business call (e.g. you don’t want a tone interrupting your conversation when you get a text from your BFF).
What You Need to Watch For
If an alternate phone number sounds like the perfect solution for you, the next step is to figure out how to pick the best provider. While some of it comes down to preference (as in-app vs service), other factors need to be considered, as well.
A provider may sound brilliant. They have great images, you really feel like you understand the product, they present themselves well…but it turns out, they’re terrible. Maybe they have bad customer service, or perhaps their program isn’t user-friendly. A good way to avoid the hassle of having to undo your account and find a new provider, pay attention to what others are saying. Who is giving low ratings? What are they saying? And the high ratings? How many people have reviewed the provider? Bear in mind that those with fewer reviews will take a harder hit from that single one-star rating than a provider with over a thousand high ratings will.
You may be tempted to skip this, checking the box and moving on. Don’t! While it may be funny to joke about the biggest lie in today’s digital society being “I have read and agree,” a company’s ToS is a contract with anyone taking advantage of what they provide. You need to know and understand what you are agreeing to, especially if a company tries to limit your rights in the event of a disagreement.
It has become standard practice to keep privacy information and Terms of Service in separate documents. This information is just as important, especially if you are using an alternate number to protect your privacy. Don’t sell it to one person to keep it from another! Understand what a company is doing with your information before using their service or product.
What are the benefits? What are the downsides? Are you using this for business reasons? What is your budget? All of these affects how much you can and will pay for a service. It’s important to know what you can spend before you start researching providers; look at pricing first to determine if someone is a possibility before looking into all the bells and whistles.
Remember: Business-related expenses can be deducted from your taxes!
Ready? Set? Dial!
With an alternate or masked number, you can call and text with confidence. Your safety and privacy matter, and more companies want to help you protect them. Don’t let a single phone limit your abilities! Find the provider that works best with your needs.