Photo: Ronstick (Shutterstock)
When was the last time you got a new phone number? Chances are good that you’re doing exactly what was assigned to you when you bought your first device, whenever it was, and have ported it from phone to phone over the years. Carriers these days are happy to allow you to keep your number, if you want, even when you’re signing up for a new plan, making it easier to live life with the same numbers for decades. .
But in the midst of unrelated spam calls and texts, as well as general privacy concerns, there’s now a case for changing your phone number, even if it seems like doing so would invite more chaos than good.
Spam calls and messages are blowing up your phone
The stereotype suggests that the phone call is dead, but it still gets a lot of use. Of course, the callers doing the heavy lifting here are, unfortunately, the spammers. You see it all the time: Your iPhone or Android can literally tell you that an incoming call is a spam risk, or a number mirrored close to you, or someone from a random location who’s actually talking to you. wants to do, he will call.
And it’s not only spam calls that are a nuisance these days; This is also spam text. I get Way Lots of spammy messages, sent from both phone numbers and email addresses on a near daily basis, and run the gamut from lengthy pitches about car warranties, to phishing attempts, to PDFs never to open. Even with the ability to report spam texts to your carrier, fighting them is a Sisyphean task.
Spammers can steal your phone number
There are many ways spammers and bad actors can get hold of your phone number. Often, this, along with much of your personal data, is sold only by companies and organizations you thought you could trust. Or maybe spammers picked it up from a background check service (there’s more personal information online than you might think). Other times, this information is released due to data leaks. No matter how they got your number, it’s there, and the more time you have, the more likely it is to be present in many shady places and many mass-spam lists.
The good thing about getting a new number? It is a clean slate. Spammers will find you the truth eventually. But it will take time—and there are ways to keep it safe (more on that below).
Changing your phone number is easier and cheaper than you think
Changing your number sounds like a hassle, as you’ll have to deal with your carrier and update your extensive list of contacts with your new information. But, as it turns out, you can change your number in minutes, online, for little to no cost.
Verizon offers this service to its customers for free through the My Verizon app or website (customer service costs going through $15). AT&T will let you change your number for free, provided you activated it less than 30 days ago; If you have a number longer than that, you’ll have to pay $36 to switch. AT&T will also let you customize your new number. You can choose your telephone prefix (middle three digits), then choose from the available line numbers. Obviously, you can’t choose a number that’s already taken, but it can be a good way to secure a number that resonates with you.
T-Mobile’s Scam Shield lets you change your number once each year for free, with a $15 fee per change in between. Sprint also lets you switch for free, but doesn’t let you choose the number, which is a shame.
Changing Your Number Isn’t A Big Social Annoyance It Seems
No hassle to update your friends and family with your new scores. You’ll get tons of “new numbers, who dis” texts until someone collectively finds a way to do this. But, it may not be as much work as you think. after all are you really Need to update each of your contacts? I have a lot of numbers in my digital Rolodex that I don’t use. If I had changed my number, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to access a lot of these old contacts.
There are many more ways for us to communicate now than by phone numbers. While a direct phone call to your old number will result in an error message, you may still receive messages from your friends and family. On the iPhone, for example, you can also probably access your Apple ID via email, which also supports iMessage and FaceTime. If people send you a message or call you, it should be the default for these accounts, giving you the opportunity to update those contacts with your number.
Also, we chat on third-party apps all the time. Your Messenger friends won’t even know you’ve changed your number. WhatsApp Is is tied to your phone number, but you’ll need to update your number with the app to use it, and your WhatsApp friends will still be able to reach you once you do.
How to keep your new number away from spammers
Now that you’ve gotten this far, do your best to prevent spammers from getting your new number so you don’t have to do it all over again. One of the best ways to prevent bad actors from accessing your number is to not give out your number at all. How? Give them a choice.
Enter Google Voice: With this service, Google will give you a secondary phone number associated with your primary digits. This number can send and receive calls and text messages just like your regular number, while shielding your primary number. Signing up for an account that requires a phone number? Google Voice. Sending resumes to strangers looking for a job? Google Voice. whenever you are sharing your number with people you do not know, or especially With apps, websites, and the like, use your Google Voice number, and stop your iPhone or Android from ringing.
Of course, this method isn’t foolproof: It’s entirely possible that your new number will be accessed by one of these background check companies. When this happens, paid services like DeleteMe can help purge personal data from these shoddy sites and organizations. But keeping your number private to everyone should keep your most trusted contacts majority of In the bay of spammers and phishers.