Why You Should Change Your Phone Number
When was the last time you received a new phone number? Chances are you’re using the same thing you did when you bought your first device, whenever that was, and have been transferring it from one phone to another over the years. Operators these days are happy to let you keep your number if you want, even if you sign up for a new data plan, making it easier to live with the same numbers for decades.
But between relentless spam calls and texts, and general privacy concerns, there’s a reason to change your phone number now, even if it seems like it’s causing more chaos than it’s worth.
Spam calls and text messages blow up your phone
The stereotype suggests that the phone call is dead, but it is still in use. Of course, the callers doing the hard work here are unfortunately spammers. You see it all the time: your iPhone or Android can literally tell you that an incoming call is a spam threat, or a number that mirrors yours, or comes from a random place where no one who really wants to talk to you is going to call. .
And it’s not just spam calls that are troublesome these days; This is also spam texts. Almost every day, I receive too many spam messages from both phone numbers and email addresses, and they run the gamut from long car warranty offers to phishing attempts to PDFs that I will never open. . Even with the ability to report spam texts to your operator , dealing with them is a Sisyphean task.
Spammers can steal your phone number
There are many ways spammers and scammers can get hold of your phone number. Often, these, along with your other personal data, are simply sold by companies and organizations you thought you could trust. Or maybe spammers picked it up from a background check service (there’s more of your personal information online than you think). In other cases, this information is exposed due to a data breach. No matter how they got your number, it’s there, and the longer you have it, the more likely it is to exist in multiple shady places and multiple bulk spam mailing lists.
What’s good about the new number? This is a clean slate. Spammers will eventually find you, really. But this will take time, and there are ways to make it more secure (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 contact list with new information. But as it turns out, you can change your number in minutes, online, for virtually no cost.
Verizon offers this service to its customers for free through the My Verizon app or website (customer service pass costs $15). AT&T will also let you change your number for free , provided you activated it less than 30 days ago; if you had a number longer than that, you would need to pay $36 to switch. AT&T will even let you set up a new number. You can choose your phone prefix (three middle digits) and then choose one of the available line numbers. Obviously you can’t pick a number that’s already taken, but this can be a good way to get a number you like.
T-Mobile Scam Shield allows you to change your number for free once a year with a $15 fee for each change in between. Sprint also lets you switch for free , but doesn’t let you choose a number, which is a shame.
Changing your number is not as big of a social issue as it seems.
There is no way around the chore of updating your friends and family with new numbers. Until someone figures out how to do it en masse, you’ll get a lot of “new number who declined” messages. But it might not be as much work as you think. After all, do you really need to update each of your contacts? I have many numbers in my digital directory that I don’t use. If I changed my number, I would certainly not contact many of these outdated contacts.
Now we have many more ways to communicate than by phone number. While a direct phone call to your old number will result in an error message, messages from your friends and family may still be delivered to you. For example, on an iPhone, you can probably also be contacted via Apple ID email, which also supports iMessage and FaceTime. If people send you a message or call you, these accounts should be the default, giving you the option to update those contacts with your number.
In addition, we constantly communicate in third-party applications. Your Messenger friends won’t even know you’ve changed your number. WhatsApp is tied to your phone number, but you will need to update your number on the app to use it, and your WhatsApp friends will still be able to contact you once you do so.
How to protect your new number from spammers
Now that you’ve come this far, do your best to keep spammers from getting your new number so you don’t have to do it again. One of the best ways to prevent intruders from accessing your number is not to give out your number at all. How? Give them an alternative.
Sign in to Google Voice: With this service, Google will provide you with an additional phone number tied to your primary numbers. This number can send and receive calls and text messages just like your regular number, but your main number is hidden. Signing up for an account that requires a phone number? Google voice. Sending resumes to strangers looking for a job? Google voice. Any time you share your number with people you don’t know, or especially apps, websites, etc., use your Google Voice number and don’t let your iPhone or Android ring from the handset.
Of course, this method is not reliable: it is quite possible that one of these background check companies will gain access to your new number. When this happens, paid services like DeleteMe can help clear personal data from these scam sites and organizations. But keeping your number private to all but the most trusted contacts should keep most spammers and phishers at bay.