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Modern life is complicated; before the advent of cell phones and the proliferation of online services, you could be relatively assured of privacy when at home. You could request that your number be removed from phonebooks and live your life in comfort, assured that bad actors would struggle to get ahold of your personal information.

Now, though, it seems nearly impossible to get some peace and quiet without worrying about scammers and spam, which is why a savvy cell phone user uses a throwaway SMS number when signing up for any service. These services allow you to rent out a cell phone number for a period of time in order to get verification codes when signing up for any service, which keeps your personal phone number secure. Why might you consider a disposable SMS number when using any service? Read on, and you’ll see why this is an indispensable facet of privacy in the digital world.

You’re Protected From Annoying Text Alerts

The first reason why throwaway SMS services are so useful is that they keep you from receiving a barrage of advertisement texting. While many of these services allow you to reply “STOP” to end the constant flow of irrelevant messages, some make it more difficult to opt-out.

By using a temporary number, you can still verify your account without opening yourself up to endless obnoxious messages alerting you to new activity on your account or badgering you to try a new product. Instead, you can smile each time your phone dings, sure that it’s a message from a loved one rather than a corporation.

Your Phone Number Won’t Be Included in a Data Breach

Data breaches are a serious security threat to everyone – especially because they are so prevalent. The Harvard Business Review reported that a shocking 83% of organizations experienced at least one data breach in 2022, which put millions of people at risk. When your phone number is included in a data breach, you may be signed up for services you never wanted or, worse, it may be used for Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for your bank account, potentially whisking away your hard-earned money in the blink of an eye. When your phone number is attached to so many critical services, it’s not too hard for a scammer to connect the dots and gather even more information about you, all the way up to identity theft that could leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars of debt.

It’s important that you avoid giving your phone number to sites whose security you don’t entirely trust, especially if it’s an account you’ll only use occasionally. When you sign up for a temp SMS service, you can open accounts with less worry, sure that your phone number won’t be swept up in a devastating security breach.

Scammers Will Have a More Difficult Time Tracking You Down

Data breaches don’t just mean that your information is floating freely around the internet, though that’s scary enough: it also means that bad actors can find it and use it to manipulate you.

As consumers have grown more aware of risks, scammers have grown more sophisticated. Gone are the days of hastily constructed emails that your mail service stuffs into a spam folder; now, scammers use social engineering, a repertoire of tactics that tricks unwitting victims into exposing sensitive information. This can include impersonating a reputable source like your bank or even the government, asking for credentials, or insisting that you need to send money to a specific account to avoid serious repercussions.

One of the most dangerous is spear phishing, where a scammer studies you and crafts a personalized message to convince you to send the requested information. This might be pretending to be one of your loved ones in desperate need of funds, or posing as a long-lost relative who has found themselves stranded in a foreign country and requires help to get a plane ticket home. The narratives that scammers can construct can be incredibly realistic, and these attempts often happen through text; this is because email services have developed highly sophisticated spam filters, meaning that their malicious storytelling may fall on deaf ears.

However, you can forestall this entirely by strictly limiting where you input your phone number. Instead of swearing off the internet entirely, you can simply authenticate new accounts using a rented SMS number: you’ll just pay a small fee to access the number for half an hour, receive the code, and then let the rental expire. Because you can’t send texts with the number and the messages are purged, it won’t matter if the number is exposed in a data breach.

Data privacy is paramount any time that you get on the internet. Things like VPNs and borrowed SMS lines can ensure that your sensitive details never make it into the hands of bad actors, ensuring that you can browse at your leisure without any fear.