One Number To Rule Them All - Is It Safe?
April 13, 2014 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Any downsides, considerations, things I may not have thought of, in the idea of using my Google Voice number as the general number for all my credit card, banking, merchant etc. needs? Is it advisable?

Last week I had a question about a cheap prepaid phone for emergencies. I have made my decision, but there was a minor complication in that I was not sure if I could later port a number from my other carrier to the new one after a few months. The T-mobile rep claimed - to my surprise - that it'll be no problem at all to get a new number now with t-mobile and then port my verizon number over to the t-mobile and substitute after a few months.

Be that as it may, I had been thinking that it's a bit of a nuisance every time I need to change the number or whatever, and whether it doesn't make sense to have one general number like my Google Voice number that I can have associated with my credit card, banking, merchant and other needs, and that way not have to change it for however long GV lasts. In a way, isn't that the mission and raison d'etre of GV in the first place?

Of course, the immediate risk I see is that one day GV may go the way of any number of Google services which are arbitrarily killed. I'm ok with that, as I figure there will be enough warning to make alternate arrangements. Privacy issues - I'm resigned to the fact that there is no such thing really anymore, what with everyone from the government to random corporations snooping on our data with no holds barred, so I don't stress over it, and I use gmail and whatever else without much more than a shrug.

However, the hive mind has millennia of cumulative experience and wisdom, so I thought I'd throw it out there to see what I've missed in this plan, the Marathon Man question: is it safe?
posted by VikingSword to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anecdotes are limited evidence, but this is exactly what I've been doing for the last 6 months and I haven't had any issues.
posted by PMdixon at 3:41 AM on April 14, 2014

I used to do this. Changed only because I gave up maintaining a US presence. Worked fine.
posted by Nothing at 4:01 AM on April 14, 2014

I got a GV number when I moved to a new city 2 years ago, primarily to have a number with a local area code. The biggest issue I've with it is that GV can only forward picture messages to certain cell carriers, mine not included. This article claims that Google has arrangements with Sprint and T-Mobile to handle MMS, but not Verizon or AT&T.
posted by jon1270 at 4:34 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Been doing it since 2010, no issues yet.

For GV in general: MMS is something to consider if it's important to you. Also, AFAIK, international SMS is still not supported. Someone feel free to correct me on would be nice to have.
posted by xiaolongbao at 5:45 AM on April 14, 2014

I've done this for years as well - at least since 2010. My GV number is my outward-facing contact number to the world at large. As stated above, I don't tend to use SMS alerts with it - I get any alerts via email instead.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:06 AM on April 14, 2014

I've done this for several years. The only caveat is that you might not want to associate this number with the "real" Google account you use for day-to-day things, if you're concerned about that account being a potential target for an attacker. In my case, I have a Google account that I really only use for GV, and for recovery for the "real" Google accounts I use in business and personal life.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:13 AM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've also done this for years with no issues.
posted by 4th number at 6:23 AM on April 14, 2014

I don't get texts sent to my GV number if my phone is turned off or out of a service area (meaning I don't get them when I turn my phone back on). So if I had an alert set up on my bank account, say for large purchases, I might miss it. The other thing I don't like is when I text from my GV number, the recipient sees it as some random number, so I don't know how that would work if you do any banking via text (e.g. I transfer money between accounts all the time via text, and my bank only knows it's me because of my #).

Maybe it's something weird with my carrier (Verizon), or maybe I screwed up with my GV settings, but I'd test this thoroughly before you switch everything over.
posted by desjardins at 7:24 AM on April 14, 2014

I'm doing this, but a recurring annoyance for me is that Google Voice can't revieve texts from shortcodes. If your bank sends texts from a real number (10 digits) you'll be fine, but if they use a shortcode (5 or 6 digits), you won't be able to recieve the texts. You can send to a short code though, so this may not be that much of an issue for you.
posted by yuwtze at 7:53 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Should you wish to do so in the future (for any reason, including GV going away), you can port your GV number out to a carrier of your choice. I think GV charges a cost-recovery fee for this ($3 maybe?).

And for future reference, you should be able to port any telephone number you own/use for voice service freely and at will, with some limitations related to service areas and rate center. Note that this is not necessarily true for fax numbers, though.
posted by devinemissk at 8:45 AM on April 14, 2014

I have this, but there are some automatic texting services that don't work, for some reason. You figure out pretty quickly which these are when you register for those services.

Frankly, using GV has helped me avoid missing important meetings, because I am not tied to my phone. I can be checking it whatever device I am on, and have all texts and calls forwarded to my Gmail when traveling. It makes it really easy to stay on top of things.
posted by troytroy at 9:26 AM on April 14, 2014

I am a long-time GV user, and have used it pretty well for most of my needs. As mentioned above, no international texts, and they sometimes have problematic behavior with two-factor SMS (I often have to try twice). It should work for you, as long as you're resigned to the lack of privacy / data mining aspects.

Alas, iMessage is slowly chipping away at the gates as it leaks my "real" phone number to more and more people. Given that GV is going to unceremoniously die ("merge with Hangouts") one of these days, I can't be bothered to try too hard any more.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:11 PM on April 14, 2014

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