How can I get calls, yet protect my privacy for free?
January 29, 2008 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What free services are available that provide a real, anonymous US phone number for forwarding to a cell phone?

I am in need of a service that can provide a free, disposable phone number for posting on flyers, so I can be reached on my cell.

Are there any free, anonymous phone forwarding services that provide a real US number besides,,, or Numbr isn't giving new numbers, jangl requires the caller to sign up to get the number, seems to only forward to IP phones, and call-safe appears to give out non-US numbers. I already have a GrandCentral account, but need a separate, anonymous number and PrivatePhone discontinued service.

I'm having trouble finding any other alternatives that don't require me to sign up and pay for some extra service when all I want is a temporary number for two weeks.
posted by abkadefgee to Technology (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Google's GrandCentral
posted by mezzanayne at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2008

Just create a new e-mail address and use another Grand Central number. You can invite yourself!
posted by Eringatang at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2008

I've been informed of this service ( However, I have not used it myself, so I cannot offer whether or not it is any good.
posted by galimatias at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2008

On second read, I realize you've already tried the service I mentioned above. Sorry!
posted by galimatias at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @mezzanayne - Thanks for answering, but as I said, I already have a GrandCentral number and need a separate number. My current GrandCentral number can be googled easily and used to find other information.

@Eringatang - I actually tried that, but Google won't let you use another GrandCentral number to forward to a number you're already using with them. They don't just check for duplicate emails, they check for duplicate phone numbers.
posted by abkadefgee at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @galimatias - No prob. Thanks for trying, though. It does look like a great service and Numbr got tons of publicity, but they seem to have received too much too soon.
posted by abkadefgee at 8:09 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: Any other suggestions?
posted by abkadefgee at 8:23 AM on January 29, 2008

will grand central let you forward to a grand central number?
posted by phil at 8:32 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @phil - Nope. They check that too.
posted by abkadefgee at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2008

How about a disposable cell phone?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2008

yeah, it's not free, but it is cheap: buy a prepaid SIM for your cellphone? you can get a 30 min card for about $6 bucks and throw it in an old phone that you have changed the VM forwarding number to your regular number. This only works if you have an old phone and cell service on a GSM network (ATT, T-mobile)

on preview, yes, JohnnyGunn, that too.
posted by jrishel at 9:04 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @JohnnyGunn - That might be an option, but I'm hoping for something free, like numbr before they stopped giving out numbers.

@jrishel - Unfortunately, I don't have service on a GSM network. Otherwise, I'd consider that before the prepaid phone.
posted by abkadefgee at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2008

Still not free, but you can have your calls forwarded if you have Vonage. The Residential Basic 500 Minutes Plan is $14.99 per month plus tax.
posted by Dec One at 9:59 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @Dec One - I have a feeling that might require me to set-up a contract or buy equipment, and I had a bad experience with Vonage previously. I specifically declined to send in the rebate form for the equipment so that they wouldn't have a basis to charge me for early cancellation if I didn't like the service. Too bad. They told me they'd hit me with an equipment fee anyway.
posted by abkadefgee at 10:07 AM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: Some good ideas above for people who don't have GrandCentral or people who're willing to pay a little for a throwaway number. However, I'm hoping somewhere, someone has found a replacement for numbr and PrivatePhone that is free or even cheaper, and doesn't carrying an extra phone.
posted by abkadefgee at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2008

I think I might have something for you. Sign up for a gizmo project account. They have an arrangement with Grand Central so that you can list a gizmo account # as a phone number. For now, when people call a Grand Central number associated with a Gizmo project number, picking up the call using Gizmo is free, but will be some inexpensive amount to "Call In" eventually (if I remember correctly). Grandcentral records the messages when you don't answer your Gizmo "phone."
posted by Eringatang at 9:18 PM on January 29, 2008

Response by poster: @Eringatang - The Gizmo idea is a new one, but would require purchasing a Call In number and credit for Call Out for the calls to go to my cell. Even if the Call In is free with GrandCentral, my number with GrandCentral isn't exactly disposable and so this wouldn't really be a workable solution. It does make me think that get a Skype In number might work since I already have the unlimited Skype Out plan for the year, but it's not quite what I'm looking for.

Why, oh why did numbr have to tease me with an awesome service they won't let me use?
posted by abkadefgee at 4:40 AM on January 30, 2008

I guess that I am not seeing how just having your number out there on a flyer really compromises your privacy. I am sure that it will not be considered appropriate to ask, but why do you need an anonymous number just to put something on flyers for people to call? It's not even like Craigslist where maybe you have to be concerned about getting crawled or something and having your number get spammed. Do you have a legitimate reason to want to be anonymous?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 4:51 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I do have a legitimate reason, but I don't really want to get into it here. It's nothing illegal or unethical, but I am concerned about harassment.
posted by abkadefgee at 7:27 PM on January 30, 2008

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