Burner Accounts 101: How To Get Extra Numbers For A Smartphone

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The obligatory way to explain the "burner" phone is by mentioning The Wire, one of the greatest television shows of all time that almost no one watched. The show is streaming on HBO and Amazon Video, so catch up when you can. For the uninitiated, a burner is a no-contract, prepaid mobile phone, usually an ultra-cheap handset you buy in a store (with cash, for privacy), activate with a call or online, use for a while, then discard. The throwing away is the "burning" part, but tossing it is optional, since these days you can "top off" the minutes on a prepaid phone and keep using it.

There are a lot of good reasons to not hand out your personal phone number. Perhaps you're buying or selling items on Craigslist, managing an Airbnb listing, job hunting, have a job with lots of phone use, or online dating. With a burner, you don't have to block a person from your permanent phone—or get a new number—later.

All of which is great, but when you pay big bucks for a smartphone with expensive monthly carrier fees, you may not want another handset. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to get an extra, temporary phone number that works with your iPhone or Android smartphone (or even on your tablet, since most use some kind of Voice over IP system). You can use burner accounts to make calls or send texts (even with photos) and get messages back in return.

This isn't like using *67 or #31# before a call, which shows you as Blocked or Unknown. Using those tricks, people can't easily call you back, not even with *69 (look it up, kids). The services below make a point of showing a temporary number when you call, so communication can happen—until you want it to stop (or run out the clock on a number). And if you just want the numbers to take calls, they all feature things like voicemail and call forwarding.

Note that there are some drawbacks with these services. The biggest is that you typically can't use them to call 911 for help. Some services build that limit into their terms of service—they don't want to get sued. Second, the companies behind some of these solutions have a very limited number of phone numbers to use. Old research from 2014 found that some companies recycle numbers quickly, meaning you could be on the receiving end of calls you don't want, from those trying to reach someone who previously had your number.

Now, if you've finished watching The Wire (seriously, season 4 in particular is amazing), get ready to access some apps and services that will maintain your privacy.


Seven-day trial with 20 minutes of talk and 60 texts; unlimited texts, minutes, and pictures requires $4.99/month Premium subscription.

Source : https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/burner-accounts-101-how-to-get-extra-numbers-for-a-smartphone

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