Did you know that a phone number can reveal almost as much information about a person as a social security number?
Every time you make a purchase online, register on a website or create a social media profile, you leave a digital footprint that can be traced back to you and your private data. Plenty of websites require security or activation codes that are often sent in a text message, so your phone number gets entered into yet another online database.
Even though reliable websites have strict privacy policies, some companies specialize in extracting people’s personal information from all over the Internet. Once someone has your phone number, they can use it to find out more about you, try to steal your identity, and cause you harm in some other way.
Generally speaking, based on your number alone, people can easily discover your:
- full name
- date of birth
- current address
- previous addresses
- email address
- social media profiles
- family members
To get a full scope of what information can be found on you based on your phone number, the best option is to run your number through the search bar on Who Called Me From and see what pops up. You may be surprised to learn just how much personal details others can learn about you just by performing a reverse phone lookup. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself.
1. Check Your Social Media Profiles
Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or any other social media profile that contains your private phone number, you should make sure to adjust your privacy settings on private or selectively pick who gets to see your data. Unless it is a work-related phone number, it is best to keep it visible only to your closest friends or to remove it from your profiles altogether.
2. Think Carefully To Whom You Give Your Phone Number
You may not have given it a lot of thought, but you should be very careful when giving your number. Sure, it seems like leaving your number when shopping online, signing a petition or entering a giveaway is not a big deal, but the truth is that you should not provide everyone with access to your number. We are not saying you should distrust everyone, just that you should stop to think about whether the site in question needs your number or if they are trying to collect as much information about you without it being necessary.
3. Stay Away From Sites That Offer Free Things
Often, when a site says that it is offering something for free, it is not. Websites that advertise free stuff or give away discounts are usually after your private information, which they later use for direct marketing or share with someone else who might use it for their benefit. Stay away from special offers that ask for your phone number and other personal information in exchange for a chance to win a free holiday, a lifetime supply of candy bars or an unrealistic discount on something you have Googled many times. Bottom line is, if something looks too good to be true, chances are it probably is.
4. Create A Google Alert
One way you can track your presence on the web is to set up a Google Alert for your name. To set up a Google alert, all you have to do is:
- Go to Google.com/alerts from your browser;
- Enter the term you want to track (your name);
- If you want to narrow the search to a specific region, language or source, go to Show Options. You can also select how often you wish to receive alerts.
You will get an email every time there is a mention of your name. This will give you an insight into how your information is used and in connection to what websites.
You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your private information online. Even something as trivial as giving away your phone number to collect a 20% discount coupon can easily backfire without you knowing it. Your phone number is an entryway to information some people may find very useful, so the next time you see an empty field to write down your phone number, think twice before you enter it.