Please enter a phone number for the verification code to be sent to you (NOT)
May 16, 2012 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Is it safe or desireable to give a mobile phone number, to a website for verification?


It seems more and more websites are asking for phone numbers, to send you their verification code to confirm you are a real person and not a spambot. Google is one of them.

I am deeply uncomfortable doing this. I don't want to give out my cellphone number to any website. But I don't know what to do instead. It's not like email where I can create a dummy hotmail account and use that for website logins.

What is the alternative to actually giving my number? I don't want to buy a 2nd cellphone just to use for logins.

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Google's the only site I care about that does this, and there's actually a tiiiiiiiiiiny little opt out link. I think it's in the lower right corner...however, you can only opt out if your account is already established. If you're trying to create a new account, I think you're out of luck.
posted by smirkette at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2012

Craigslist does it (though I can understand the rationale).
posted by alexei at 4:35 PM on May 16, 2012

>Google's the only site I care about that does this,

yes & I keep clicking that opt-out link. Problem is, that more and more websites are asking for phone numbers. I'm not sure there's a way around it.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 4:41 PM on May 16, 2012

A quick google search turned up this:
posted by rouftop at 4:41 PM on May 16, 2012

You could create a Google Voice number just to receive texts at... (at least for sites that aren't Google)
posted by jozxyqk at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

The downside is that you could be signing yourself up for text message spam. The upside is that they can always use your phone number to help you recover your password if you get locked out of your account for any reason, which could include a security incident completely outside of your control. Really not such a bad idea for something like Google if you're using Gmail for all your mail, Docs/Drive for important documents, etc... You don't want to be in a position where you're begging one of these companies to let you back into your account.

For random sites that aren't giving you great value, just don't give them your phone number. It's up to you to decide. If you can't proceed without doing so, you unfortunately have to make a choice.

You could probably give a Google Voice number, as you can send and receive text messages through there. That might not work with Google itself, but you can give that number to other sites.
posted by zachlipton at 4:56 PM on May 16, 2012

Google rejects GVoice numbers for it's authentication methods via SMS, FYI.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:32 PM on May 16, 2012

jozxyqk: "You could create a Google Voice number just to receive texts at... (at least for sites that aren't Google)"

I'd recommend this anyway; Google Voice is *awesome*. You can set it up so that only phone numbers you know reach you directly; everyone else has to leave their name and you decide if you want to speak to them or not.

The best thing about this is, you're effectively making the phone number as separate from you as an email might be. There's no longer a real privacy concern because now the phone number is just a set of 10 digits attached to your email address, which they have already.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:04 PM on May 16, 2012

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