Why should I hide my phone number when phone banking?
November 29, 2016 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to train for phone banking with SURJ, and there are instructions to keep one's phone number private (basically, by connecting with Google Voice). Should I keep my number private--is it a conduit to other private information? Can someone find me with my number alone?

The training material emphasizes that "Everyone on our contact list is a SURJ supporter and likely to be receptive to our calls," but I'm a little paranoid because I've been watching stuff about Putin's Russia and technology as a weapon, and I've gotten a couple of follows/friend requests from neo-Nazis posing as SJW types. So I'm inclined to hide my number, but I also haaaaaate Google Voice, so I don't really want to use it unless someone could maliciously track me down or steal my stuff, using my phone number. Convince me either way?
posted by witchen to Technology (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you really want some creep calling you to harass you day and night? Because this is practically guaranteed to happen. No matter who you're calling.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:47 PM on November 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


It's quite possible to do a reverse lookup on a phone number using services like Spokeo. By doing so, a user can potentially identify your name, residence history, familial relationships, and investigate your criminal record. If you've posted your number in public a whole bunch, that may also be a source of information leakage.

A clue to how exposed you are can be obtained by looking up your phone number in a search engine. I would not feel comfortable exposing a real phone number to strangers.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 3:47 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


People are horrible. You'll get masturbators calling you at all hours, people will give your number to NAMBLA, if you make someone angry enough they'll put up a fake Craigslist ad or Reddit post with your number. You could easily have an unusable phone number in less than a day. Even on a "good" phone list (remember that not everyone signs up for these in good faith, or indeed for themselves), you just don't know who's going to answer.

There are security concerns too, but they are secondary to the potential for abuse. You'd be better off buying a burner phone if you hate Gvoice that much, unless you need to be using an app for the phone banking.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:56 PM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Even in a world where everyone on your list is actually a nice person, concealing your phone number also separates "phone banking you" from "rest of the time you" and thereby prevents the frustrating situation where the other person doesn't pick up, but notices that they've missed a call from you and calls you back to ask what you wanted while you're trying to go about your regular day.
posted by dorque at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Unless you want to receive unsolicited calls literally all the time, yes, hide your number. Even if they're harmless, sympathetic callers, the sheer volume will overwhelm you. At my job, we sometimes use our cell phones when working from home. People who forgot to hide their numbers now get texts from customers at all hours of the day, and not always work related. Regardless of reverse lookup abilities, you should hide your number just so that nobody calls you back.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aside from the risk that you might call somebody dangerous, there's also the risk that you could wind up in one of those "which telemarketer is calling me" databases, which could make your involvement in this more Google-ably public than you want.
posted by Sequence at 5:06 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you have ever allowed Facebook access to your phone contacts or whatnot, I think people can look up your profile with a phone number.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:18 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, an activist friend of mine just got doxxed after her name and picture were publicized via local media — a white nationalist group picked the story up, and within three days militia members found her home, broke in, stole some shit and have been stalking and threatening her entire household. They traced her with just her name and photo. Why give harassers a helping hand? Protect yourself.
posted by fritillary at 5:36 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


within three days militia members found her home, broke in, stole some shit and have been stalking and threatening her entire household.

Yeeee-ikes! Okay, I'm convinced. Using Google Voice, and not listing my current town as my location. Thanks, everyone.
posted by witchen at 6:18 PM on November 29, 2016


Use a burner app?
posted by book 'em dano at 6:27 PM on November 29, 2016


We might have been in the same training session, if you did yours earlier today! Anyway, I was a little disappointed by the downplaying of security concerns re using your own number. There's certainly nothing stopping a troll from expressing interest in SURJ and harassing callers afterwards, so the notion that callees are "likely to be receptive to [SURJ's] calls" seems like thin reassurance. If you're on iOS and it's the Google Voice app in particular that you hate, you can hook up the Google Hangouts app to your Google Voice number and use it in a more user-friendly fashion that way.
posted by invitapriore at 10:03 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Everyone on our contact list is a SURJ supporter and likely to be receptive to our calls"

That doesn't mean that's who picked up the phone.
posted by AFABulous at 8:54 AM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Everyone on our contact list is a SURJ supporter and likely to be receptive to our calls,"

The fact that someone supports racial justice doesn't mean they're not a horrible person in other ways.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:10 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I began to use the Burner app for phone banking for Hillary in Texas after someone called me back and told me very obnoxiously that he was voting for Trump. A couple of people were suspicious about me calling from California, too.

So that's just another data point for getting a Google Voice number for this work. Good luck!
posted by vickyverky at 9:10 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


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