How do I take calls anonymously?
January 23, 2017 1:01 PM   Subscribe

I need to take calls on a landline, without giving out my phone number. How do I do that?

I used to use a Google Voice widget, which would basically allow people to click, enter their phone number, and then it would connect my line and theirs. Google deprecated that function of Google Voice. I don't want to give out the land line number, and I actually use my Google Voice #, so I can't give that number out publicly either. Is there any other service that would allow people to connect to my landline without giving out the number publicly?
posted by YoungAmerican to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would do an additional Google account with a new Google Voice number that gets forwarded to your landline. Is that possible?
posted by zem at 1:04 PM on January 23, 2017


Unfortunately, because it's an office line, we have a few GV accounts pointed at it, and Google won't allow any more.
posted by YoungAmerican at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2017


What about switching to a small plan on a business VOIP system? Something like RingCentral I think would be pretty flexible about adding and changing numbers as you need to.
posted by radioamy at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


You can get a new number through any number of VOIP providers — I use CallCentric, but I'm sure there are others, I'm just too lazy to change and I've had it for years — and then set up an automatic call forwarding rule where after the first ring the call is automatically redirected to your actual (private) number. It'd probably cost you around $5/month or so plus a few cents per minute for light usage.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2017


If you have access to a developer, you could also glue something together pretty easily with Twilio.
posted by primethyme at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2017


Not as high tech as some others have suggested but you could buy a cheap per minute phone and voice plan and forward calls from that phone number to whatever number you want. The forwarded calls do not count on your minutes on the plan I was on.
posted by Justin Case at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming the landline aspect of this is important, given the nature of your business and the better sound quality of audio over landlines. So a VOIP (or similar) solution might not work.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:29 PM on January 23, 2017


Hardware solution like an obitalk VoIP bridge? Plug a separate standard phone into one port and an Ethernet cable into another so it can get to the internet, and configure a separate Google account/voice account and number. Instant landline bypassing your office desk phone.
posted by enfa at 7:19 PM on January 23, 2017


To expand on Kadin2048's comment -- yeah if you don't mind paying for this, CallCentric (and other VOIP services such as voip.ms) offers phone numbers (they call them DIDs or Direct Inward Dialing numbers).

CC has an option where you can pick a "free" number based in New York state, so if the area code doesn't matter to you, that might be something you can try. (I say "free" in quotations because if you're based in the US and this is your only service with them, they'll charge an E911 fee of around $1.50 per month, I think. Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom for "Special restrictions for Free Phone Numbers" for other notices.)

If this is going to be a number that's temporary, the "free" number might work fine, but if you're looking for a permanent number, be aware that the free version has to be used every so often to keep the number. You can pay a little more for a non-free number in the area code you want. The cost also depends on which incoming plan you go with.

Anyway you could sign up for one of those DIDs online, and then from your account settings, set up a forwarding rule to your landline number and test it out.

Important note: in addition to any fees and taxes for the month (based on whatever plan you pick), you'd also be charged for the cost of forwarding the number, which I think is based on how long the call lasts. More info on that. (I've used CC but haven't had any experience with call forwarding to a separate landline.)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 9:19 PM on January 23, 2017


Get a number for 99c/month at www.voip.ms and forward it to your cell, landline or both.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:52 AM on January 24, 2017


If landline quality is an absolute requirement, Callcentric is a better option than voip.ms. While I use both and have had few problems with either, Callcentric is more expensive because they are selling a different product. Unlike most VoIP providers, their connections to their providers don't use IP, so calls forwarded to a landline literally never use the Internet for any part of the call.

The downside to that is what happened during Sandy when the power in lower Manhattan failed and their building's generator flooded. They were out for a week or so. If their telco connections were Internet-based they could have just rented some servers from Amazon or Rackspace or whoever and gotten going again rather than waiting for power at that one physical location.

Callcentric is more expensive as voip.ms, though. 1.5c/min for the incoming leg plus 1.9c/min to forward to a landline vs. 1c (ish) and 1c (ish). voip.ms DIDs have different per-minute rates in some areas and they have a few different termination products at different quality/price points, hence the "ish" on their pricing.

In either case, you'd order a DID and then set a call forwarding number in the control panel. It's really easy and both have specific documentation on the process.

Oh, and you don't actually have to pay the monthly E911 fee with Callcentric if you are on the per-minute plans. I believe it is only required if you buy a single plan that includes both incoming and outgoing service. (That's the FCC rule, anyway) There is a big red notice reminding you that you don't have it every time you log in, though.
posted by wierdo at 1:52 AM on January 24, 2017


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