Friday, July 07, 2006

No Need to give out fake numbers again ?

WHO DOESN'T SCREEN CALLS these days? Whether you're hiding from a telemarketer, your college alumni association or that cutie you met at a bar last weekend, there are many times when you seriously regret having given out your precious digits.

So don't.

Thanks to Private Phone, a free new service launched June 1 by Internet provider NetZero, you can now set up a disposable phone number — kind of like the free email account you use to hold spam.

Unlike paid subscriptions that offer an extra phone line, this free disposable number service works with your existing number. You sign up online, selecting the area code and number. When people call your disposable number, they're forwarded automatically to voicemail. You'll get an email or text message notifying you of the message, which you can retrieve online or by phone.

You can open multiple accounts and close them at any time. And the person calling you need never know they're not reaching your real number. The mailbox only holds 10 messages, however, so you'll need to keep it clear to keep receiving calls.

You might benefit from a disposable phone number if you:

Post classified ads on Craigslist, in your local newspaper, or on community bulletin boards.
Have an unlisted number — and want to keep it that way.
Frequently sign up for sites, newsletters and freebies online. (Signing up often means your info is shared with site partners and third-party retailers.)
Want to make your contact information available online, say, on your blog or personal web site.
Get asked for your number by a (cute) stranger.

Another company, Jangl, is conducting beta tests for a similar service, though no launch date has yet been announced. Here, calls to your disposable number will be automatically forwarded to your phone, while keeping your real number anonymous. Interested in trying it? Sign up for their beta tests online.

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