About to Give Out Your Cell Number? Here's a Safer Alternative!
You’re at an event or a special location and strike up a conversation with someone you think could be a person you want to learn more about. The energy is positive, the smile is perfect, and the conversation flows with ease.
As you’re finishing the conversation, the other person says,
“I’d love to get to know you better and continue this fabulous conversation. Can you give me your phone number?”.
What to do?
While a part of you is intrigued and wants to talk more with this person, another part isn’t so sure giving out your phone number without knowing more about this person is a good idea.
The good news? You can satisfy both parts and feel good about providing your phone number.
Except, you’re not giving out your main cell number.
Google Voice to the Rescue
Google Voice is a service that offers a no cost phone number you can use to receive incoming and make outgoing calls and text messages through your cellphone or computer. Spam is filtered automatically. You can block numbers and forward calls, text messages, and voicemails to your regular cell number if you choose. It will even transcribe voicemails into text so you can read and save messages easily.
Where is Google Voice Available and How Does it Work?
Google Voice is available in the United States and through G Suite accounts in some international markets.
When signing up for a Google Voice account, you can choose from an array of phone numbers in various area codes. Setup is easy and the account is free.
Incoming and outgoing calls through your Google Voice account will use your standard cellphone provider minutes. There is no additional Google Voice expense unless you’re making international calls.
You can make international calls at competitive rates through your Google Voice account without incurring international calling fees from your cellphone carrier. International calls will use standard cellphone carrier minutes.
When making a call using your Google Voice access number, the person receiving the call will see your Google Voice access number in Caller ID. Your main cellphone number is not shown.
Let’s return to that great conversation. What do you really know about the other person’s background? At this early stage, nothing.
By providing a Google Voice phone number, you have the option to either block calls or get a new Google Voice phone number if things don't work out.
By using your Google Voice number in this and similar situations, you don’t risk having to go through the hassle of changing your main cellphone number. If this person or anyone else turns out to be a stalker or someone who persistently calls or texts against your wishes, it’s easy to stop annoying calls and texts because you can simply delete that particular Google Voice account.
How To Get a Google Voice Account
If you don’t already have a free Gmail account, go to https://gmail.google.com, select, “Create account", and follow the steps to create a Gmail address.
Next, go to https://voice.google.com/about and complete the Google Voice account setup process. You can create an account through your computer web browser, in the Google Play Store on Android phones, and in the Apple App Store for iOS devices.
All three signup options are available at https://voice.google.com. Once the account is set up, you can sync your phone, computer, and tablet together to receive and make calls and receive and send text messages from all your devices.
Bonus Safety Tip
If you decide to exchange email addresses with someone you don’t know well, I recommend using a free web based email account for that purpose. Free accounts are available from multiple companies including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and others.
If someone proves unworthy of continued email exchanges, you can simply eliminate that account from your cellphone email service or stop opening that email account on your computer.
One privacy suggestion: At setup, when given the option to import your contacts into either Google Voice or a new email account for limited use, select, "No". Neither account is for general purpose use and you'll find it easier to use these limited purpose accounts by not linking them to your existing contacts.
Creating and using Google Voice for calls and a dedicated email address other than your main email account when communicating with people who have not yet proven themselves trustworthy is an easy way to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Stephen Carter is a former Chief of Police, Corporate Security Director and safely leader for one of the world's largest financial services company. He is now the CEO of Stress Solutions, LLC, a company dedicated to helping people enhance physical and emotional wellbeing through stress mastery using mind-body methods. He hosts the, "Safe Living Today", "Mind Over Stress", and "EFT Tapping Junction" podcasts.