These days, we might as well have our phone numbers tattooed on our foreheads. Those digits have become identifiers, more and more. I’ve had my primary number for ~20 years, and can’t even begin to count every business, person and entity that links that number to my life.
A short list of places that require a person to have a phone number:
- Social media sites like Twitter
- Doctors offices and medical records
- Some retail stores actually start an in-person payment with, can I get your phone number?
- Banks, credit cards, and wealth management institutions
- Chat apps like Telegram
- Password recovery services
- The US Post Office when you get a PO Box
- Grocery store discount cards, and if you forget your card, can just tell the cashier your phone number
- Even Signal, one of the most popular privacy messaging apps
Why is this a problem? Data on too many insecure databases invariably lands in the lap of criminals. Sim-swap fraud is too easy and has risen dramatically over the past five years. If anyone has just two pieces of information, your name and phone number, they can call each of the big 3 telephone companies and say “Hi, my name is ___ and I just got a new phone. Could you switch it over for me?” Many new or poorly trained phone company employees will do it. Then the criminal has access to your entire phone. At that point, even 2FA won’t stop them.
That’s why I purchased an anonymous number from Number Protector. It’s the perfect tool for signing up for services that require a phone number. When someone sends an SMS text message to your Number Protector number, the message is auto-converted to a YEC memo and sent to the shielded YEC address you provide. It doesn’t do outgoing texts or phone calls, but it works perfectly for this purpose.
I can freely give this number out to anyone; to Facebook, to a grocery store, or to a guy who just got out of jail for sim-swap fraud. In fact, here it is: +44 772 314 9704. That’s the ultimate telos of privacy technology — to not hide but enable living openly in society with tools of empowerment and protection.
To get your Number Protector number, go to https://numberprotector.com/. Send the required YEC to the payment address, and include your own YEC address in the memo field.