Practically every account that you have requires you to set up a password. The goal of these passwords is to limit access to your account to authorized users only. Unfortunately, passwords are a lot easier to steal than you might think.
For example, more than 2.5 billion accounts were hacked in just 2018 alone. The hacked accounts ranged anywhere from social media accounts all the way to bank accounts.
There are a few things that you can do to try and limit access to your account. You should avoid using simple passwords that include your name or birthday.
Use passwords more than six characters long and feature both numbers and special characters. You should also try to enroll in SMS verification whenever it’s offered. It adds an extra step whenever you try to log into your account, but it can be an effective way to protect it. Verification SMS messages are typically needed to use Uber, PayPal, and similar.
SMS verification is a way that apps, websites, social networks, and banks can check the identity of a user. The way it works is that after you enter your username and password, you’ll be sent a verification code via text message.
How To Set Up Free SMS Verification Codes
On the surface, SMS verification sounds like the perfect foil to stop hackers. While it can help to keep your account secure, it’s most effective when you’re not using your actual number.
After all, if a hacker can steal your password from your account, why couldn’t they also steal your phone number? Having your username, password, and real phone number fall into the wrong hands can be life-changing in all of the worst ways.
The best method for avoiding such a dreadful experience is to use a second phone number for your verification codes. You’ll be enjoying all the protection that’s offered by SMS verification without any of the potential downsides. A second number helps to create an even stronger barrier that can repel hackers and keep your information safe.
The hard part isn’t finding a way to get a second disposable phone number (there are a ton of options out there). It’s finding the one that’s right for you.
Here is a list of some options to try out:
- Google Voice
- TextNow (only locked-in numbers can receive verification codes)
- TextFree (only users subscribing to TextFree Plus can receive verification codes)
Google Voice has been around for a long time now, famous for online services like Gmail and the Google web browser.
One of the primary purposes of Google Voice is to bundle several virtual phone numbers into one. You’ll be given the option to select the phone number.
As long as you have a Google account, this VoIP is a free service that’s easy to set up. You can set it online or download the app. It’s a pretty simple process.
This works in a range of different countries like Canada and the USA. Outside of North America, people in Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, and more. Calls made between the USA and Canada are generally free but sometimes may cost extra. Calls outside of these countries will always likely have a cost attached to them.
Google Voice does offer a ton of helpful features, but some pretty major issues come with using it. The most glaring of them revolve around your privacy and personal data.
Using Google Voice will basically give Google access to all of your phone activity. Chances are likely that Google is already heavily involved with your internet activities as is. Do you want them to know everything that you do on your phone too?
Partially Free Services
TextNow is a newer option that’s recently experienced its moment in the sun. It’s essentially an end-to-end phone service within a single app. It’s closer to a phone service provider than an app for getting a second phone number.
Regardless, it does allow you to make free calls and send free texts over WiFi. It’s an easy way to cut down on your data usage and save some money on your monthly phone bill. With TextNow, only users with locked-in numbers (read: paid) can receive verification codes.
Reducing your phone bill isn’t why TextNow is on this list. The reason it was made is that when you sign up, you’ll be given a different number than your current one.
Mission accomplished, right? Not exactly. The only reason that TextNow is free is that it is ad-supported. That means you’ll need to suffer through countless ads to use TextNow.
You might be thinking that’s acceptable for a free second phone temporary phone number. Well, that’s not the only problem with TextNow.
The app doesn’t allow you to receive verification codes unless you have a lock-in number subscription, use the wireless service, or purchase the Ad-Free+ package. In other words, you’re not getting the most important feature unless you pay for it.
TextFree functions in a very similar way to TextNow. You can send and receive both text messages and phone calls for free. All that you’ll need is a WiFi connection, and you’ll have unlimited access to calls and texts. Also, just like TextNow, TextFree is ad-supported, so you can expect a variety of advertisements to bombard you constantly.
The good news is that paying for TextFree will eliminate these ads. The bad news is that you’ll have to do it if you want to receive verification codes. The only TextFree users who can receive verification codes must subscribe to the TextFree Plus plan.
The same restrictions set in place by TextNow are also established by TextFree. The only way to get verification codes sent to your TextFree number is to purchase the TextFree Plus subscription package.
Three Reasons To Use a Secondary Number
We’ve reviewed the ins and outs of SMS verification codes, but now it’s time to talk about cyber security — how to keep your information and location 100% private. Now, some might be wondering why it’s worth going through the trouble of getting a second phone if they already have one number and one device.
It’s a reasonable question to be sure, but here are three different answers as to why it’s a good idea:
- Keeps Your Work and Personal Life Separate
- Provides Protection Against Scams and RoboCallers
- Security for Your Personal Information
Keeps Your Work and Personal Life Separate
It’s essential to separate your work and personal life as much as possible. You wouldn’t link your bank account to the bank account of your business, would you?
Then why would you link your mobile number? Using a second phone number for business purposes can help you protect your information and keep your identity separate from work.
Provides Protection Against Scams and RoboCallers
Ironically, there’s been a growing trend of random verification codes being sent out. The very thing designed to protect against scams is now being used to attempt them. Using a second number for your verification codes is one way to avoid such a scam, along with all the other kinds. Note that
The second number functions like a shield that protects your actual phone number from these attacks. The fewer people and companies that know your real number, the less likely that it falls into the wrong hands.
Security for Your Personal Information
Phone numbers are technically personal information, but they can be used to get the really sensitive stuff. It’s best to think of your phone number as a key. Keys are only valuable if you know the lock that they open.
Once a hacker gets your phone number and a few more details, they’ll be able to “unlock” your personal treasure trove of information. A second number is like a key without a lock. Hackers can use it anywhere they want and never unlock anything.
A Quick Review and Last Steps
SMS verification is one of the leading deterrents for hackers. Until a better system is designed to protect your data, it’s probably the best one available. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should give out your actual phone number. The smartest would be to use one of the options listed above.
Speaking of phone numbers, read on to the next section for how the Burner app can keep you extra safe:
Burner: Stay Safe in Cyberspace
Every article that involves getting a second mobile phone number should include Burner and place it very close to the top. Burner gets its name from “burner phones," which used to be more common.
The purpose of these phones was to give you a secondary option for communication that you could throw away whenever you no longer needed it. Instead of throwing away an entire phone, Burner gives you the option to throw away phone numbers.
All that you have to do is download the app, create an account, pick an area code, and select your new number. You can “burn” the number at any time and get a new phone number with no questions asked. You won’t find an easier or more effective way to get a second number than Burner.
Please note that Burner doesn’t always work for every site and every SMS verification code attempt. Instead, Burner focuses more on protecting your data, boundaries, and anonymity with three different disposable phone numbers.
Discover more about Burner and start your free seven-day trial. You can experience all the benefits for yourself and see what it's like. By the end of the week, you should see that the decision is easy and Burner is the clear winner.