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How to Make Your Phone Number Unsearchable?

Learn how to make your phone number unsearchable with our step-by-step guide. Protect your privacy by taking control of your personal information online.

By Michael-Ibekie-headshot

Our digital presence expands and it becomes increasingly vital to protect both our phone numbers and personal information. Whether our personal phone number is associated with a mobile device or a conventional landline, it acts as a gateway to a more private information about us.

In an environment where search engines have the ability to reveal nearly any information and data brokers work tirelessly to collect data, it is very important to protect your phone number from being exposed and maintain your privacy as a top priority.

There are many important reasons to make your phone number private and keep it out of public directories, whether you want to avoid telemarketers, robocalls, or potential hackers. This 2024, it will be great to delete your number on every data exposed in the internet.

Follow these steps if you want to hide your phone number, opting out of unwanted databases, and utilizing services to protect your personal information.

12 Steps to Make your Phone Number Unsearchable

Step 1: Understanding the Privacy Risks

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Having your phone number easily accessible to the public also sends privacy risks that many might not initially consider. Even if it's set to hide, certain account details, like your area code, may still be sent to the recipient's inbox.

Your phone number can act as a gateway for telemarketers and scammers, leading to an incessant stream of unwanted calls and messages. However, the implications run deeper than just a nuisance.

Identity Theft: Your phone number can enable hackers to access personal and financial accounts, leading to identity theft.

Location Tracking: Malicious apps may get your phone number to track your location, compromising your safety.

Social Engineering: Scammers can use your new number to trick you into revealing sensitive information.

Data Brokers: Your number can be sold for telemarketing, leading to unwanted calls plus many potential scams.

Protective Tools:

Caller ID & Spam Blocking: Use apps like Truecaller to identify and block spam calls.

VPN Services: Protect your online activities and location with a VPN. You can use NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Two-Factor Authentication: Use app-based 2FA like Google Authenticator for added security.

Personal Information Removal Services: Employ services like MyDataRemoval to remove your data from public databases.

Step 2: Remove Your Number from Phone Book or Online Directories

Removing your phone number from online directories and people-search sites is a critical step in protecting your privacy. Here's how to effectively navigate this process:

Identify Major Online Directories and People-Search Sites: Search for your name, start with well-known directories such as Whitepages, Spokeo, and BeenVerified. These platforms often collect and display personal information, including phone numbers.

Whitepages: Visit their official opt-out page, search for your listing, and follow the instructions to remove it.

Spokeo: Use the opt-out form on Spokeo's website by entering your listing's URL and your email address for confirmation.

BeenVerified: Email their customer service or fill out the online opt-out form with your details for removal.

Template Messages for Removal Requests to Site Owners: If your number appears, create a concise and clear removal request to expedite the process. Here’s a template you can adapt:

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Step 3: Opt-Out from Data Brokers To Make Your Number Private

Data brokers collect and sell personal information, including phone numbers, to various entities. Opting out from their services is crucial for privacy protection.

List of Specific Data Brokers and Opt-Out Instructions

Acxiom: Visit their Consumer Rights Request Form and select "Opt-Out."

LexisNexis: Fill out their online form for opting out of public records.

PeopleFinders: Use the PeopleFinders Opt-Out page to search for your record and request its removal.

The Opt-Out Process and Associated Costs

Most data brokers offer an online opt-out process, which typically involves verifying your identity and submitting a removal request. This can often be done for free, but the process can be time-consuming.

Some services like MyDataRemoval, charge a fee but can handle the opt-out process from multiple data brokers on your behalf. For example, MyDataRemoval offers various subscription plans, starting around less than $100/year, to continuously monitor and remove your information from these and other data brokers' databases.

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Step 4: Practice Smart Personal Phone Number Sharing

Advise on Minimizing Phone Number Sharing

Online: Avoid including your phone number in public profiles or posts on social media platforms. When signing up for websites, consider whether providing your number is truly necessary.

Offline: Be selective about who you give your phone number to in everyday transactions, such as stores asking for contact details for loyalty programs or receipts. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if the convenience outweighs the privacy you’re sacrificing.

Using Secondary or Virtual Numbers

Google Voice: Offers a free secondary phone number that forwards calls and texts to your primary phone. This is ideal for online sign-ups, selling items on marketplaces, or any scenario where you prefer not to share your real number.

Burner App: Provides temporary phone numbers for a fee, which can be used for short-term projects or online selling. Once you're done, you can simply "burn" the number, ensuring any further calls or texts don't reach you.

Step 5: Adjust Social Media Privacy Settings

Tightening your social media privacy settings is crucial to prevent unwanted access to your phone number and reduce exposure to risks like phishing and harassment.

Instructions for Key Social Media Platforms

Facebook & Instagram: Access the Privacy Settings and Tools section in Facebook’s settings. For Instagram, go under Privacy and Security. Ensure your phone number is not listed under your contact information or opt to share it with 'Only Me.'

Twitter or X: Go to Settings and Privacy, then to Privacy and Safety, and check your discoverability settings to ensure your phone number isn't used to find your account.

TikTok: In the Privacy and Safety section of your account settings, you can decide who can send you messages or look you up using your phone number. Opt for "Friends" or "Off."

Snapchat: Head to Settings and look for the 'Mobile Number' section. Here, you can adjust who can get your number or remove it altogether.

Guide on Hiding or Removing Your Phone Number From The Internet

General Advice: For any social media platform, the first step is to access your account settings or profile information section. Look for options labeled ‘Phone,’ ‘Contact,’ ‘Privacy,’ or similar. From there, choose to either remove your mobile phone number entirely or adjust visibility settings to restrict who can view it.

Privacy Checkup Tools: Many social media sites offer a Privacy Checkup feature that guides users through their current settings, including phone number visibility. Utilize these tools to ensure your settings align with your privacy preferences.

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Step 6: Secure Your Communication Using Your Phone

Securing your phone communication not only helps in keeping your phone number private but also ensures that your conversations remain confidential.

How to Block Caller ID

Temporary Blocking: Dial *67 before entering the phone number you want to call. This method blocks your caller ID for that specific call.

Permanent Blocking: Contact your phone service provider and request a line block. Once activated, your number will always appear as "Private" or "Unknown" unless you dial *82 before the number to temporarily unblock it.

Smartphone Settings: For smartphones, look for the “Show My Caller ID” setting (often found under "Phone" or "Calls" in the settings menu), where you can turn off your caller ID for all outgoing calls.

Recommend Secure Messaging Apps

Signal: Known for its end-to-end encryption, Signal offers a secure way to communicate without sharing your phone number with third parties. Only people you approve can message or call you.

Telegram: Offers encrypted chats with a feature called "Secret Chats" that ensures only you and the recipient can read the messages. Telegram also allows users to create a usernames, enabling others to contact you or call others without knowing your phone number.

WhatsApp: While requiring a phone number to sign up, WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption for messages and calls. You can communicate securely without your phone number being visible to others in group chats.

Step 7: Navigate Online Buying and Selling Safely

Engaging in online marketplaces requires vigilance to protect your personal information, especially your phone number. Here's how to navigate these spaces safely:

Tips for Keeping Your Phone Number Private

Use Platform Messaging: Platforms like eBay have their own messaging systems. Communicate through these channels rather than providing your personal phone number.

Phone Provider Settings: If you're a Verizon user, their settings can be found in the “settings” menu options so you can adjust it privacy control.

Google Voice: Create a Google Voice number to use exclusively for online transactions. It forwards calls and messages to your real number without revealing it to the other party.

Privacy Settings: On platforms that allow you to post ads, such as Craigslist, check the privacy settings to ensure your contact information is only shared according to your preferences.

Anonymous Communication Options

When you're in need to contact someone without revealing your number, explore additional privacy-focused tools and services available through your phone provider.

Tossable Digits: Offers virtual phone numbers that can be used temporarily and disposed of after the transaction is complete, maintaining your privacy.

Burner App: Provides temporary phone numbers that can be used for calls and texts when buying or selling online, then "burned" or deleted after use.

Encrypted Email Services: Use services like ProtonMail for communication related to transactions. These services offer end-to-end encryption, ensuring that your emails cannot be intercepted and read by third parties.

Reducing Telemarketing Calls: Proper settings management can significantly lower the frequency of unwanted telemarketing calls.

Privacy Tools: Verizon account offers tools to help manage your visibility and reduce exposure to many telemarketing efforts and free games that seek access to your contact info.

Step 8: Register with the Do Not Call Registry

Reducing unwanted calls starts with registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, a free service provided by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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Instructions for Signing Up

Visit the National Do Not Call Registry's official website at www.donotcall.gov.

Click on the option to “Register Your Phone” and follow the prompts. You can register both mobile and landline numbers.

After submitting your number, you will receive an email requiring you to confirm your registration. This step is crucial to complete the process.

Limitations of the Registry

Exemptions: The registry prevents sales calls, but it does not stop all types of unwanted calls. Political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and calls from companies you've done business with in the past are still allowed.

Scams and Illegal Callers: Unfortunately, the registry cannot block scam calls. Scammers do not follow legal guidelines and may still call numbers listed on the registry. Tools like caller ID apps and network-level spam filters can provide additional layers of protection against these calls.

Step 9: Request Google to Remove Your Phone Number

Having your phone number displayed in Google's search results can lead to privacy concerns. Fortunately, Google has a process for requesting the removal of personal information.

Guide on Submitting a Removal Request

Locate the Content: First, identify the web page(s) where your phone number is listed. Google requires the URL of the specific page where the information appears.

Visit Google's Removal Request Form: Go to Google's official 'Remove personally identifiable information from Google' page. You can find this by searching for "Google Removal Request Form".

Complete the Form: Select the option that best describes your situation, such as "I want to remove personal information on a site that I own" or "on a site I do not own." Follow the prompts to submit the URL(s) containing your phone number. You'll be asked to specify that you're requesting the removal of a phone number and provide a reason (e.g., risk of identity theft, personal safety concern).

Verification: Google may ask for additional information to verify your identity and confirm that the number belongs to you. This step is crucial to prevent unauthorized removal requests.

Submit and Wait: After submitting your request, Google will review it for compliance with their policies. This process can take some time, and Google will notify you of the outcome once they've made a decision.

Unlisted Number: Opting for an unlisted number can keep your details out of Google search results, enhancing privacy.

Step 10: Manage App Permissions

Modern smartphones offer a lot of apps that enhance functionality but also pose a risk if they have unnecessary access to your personal information, including your phone number.

Overview of Reviewing and Revoking App Permissions

Android: Go to 'Settings' > 'Apps & notifications' > 'App permissions'. Here, you can see which apps have access to your phone calls, contacts, and other permissions. Tap on a permission to see the apps using it, and toggle off any you find unnecessary.

iOS: Access 'Settings' > 'Privacy' where you'll find a list of permissions like Contacts, Microphone, etc. Tapping on each will show you which apps have requested access, allowing you to enable or disable each permission individually.

Permission Manager Apps: For a more detailed analysis, tools like Bouncer for Android allow you to grant permissions temporarily, revoking them automatically after you exit the app.

What to Do If Your Number Is Compromised in a Data Breach

Immediate Action: Change passwords for any accounts linked to your phone number. Use strong, unique passwords for each account to prevent further unauthorized access.

Enable 2FA: Where possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of security. Opt for app-based 2FA or need your phone rings rather than SMS if available, as it's more secure.

Fraud Alert: Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports if you believe your information could be used for identity theft.

Monitor Your Accounts: Keep an eye on bank and credit card statements for any unusual activity. The sooner you spot something amiss, the quicker you can act to prevent further damage.

Use a Monitoring Service: Services like MyDataRemoval can monitor your information on the dark web and alert you if your personal data is found in data breaches.

Step 11: Consider Professional Privacy Services

While individual efforts to keep your phone number unsearchable are crucial, leveraging professional privacy services can significantly enhance your privacy strategy.

Service That Can Assist

MyDataRemoval: A subscription service that scans popular data broker sites and removes your personal information, including phone numbers, from their databases. It also provides regular reports and continues monitoring for new instances of your information appearing online. 

For dedicated assistance and access to essential tools aimed at securing or removing your online presence, contact us at hello@mydataremoval.com or give us a call at (855) 700-2914.

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Step 12: Maintain Your Privacy

Ensuring your phone number remains unsearchable requires ongoing effort. Regularly updating your privacy practices and staying informed about new privacy trends and tools are crucial steps.

Routine Privacy Checks in Search Engine

Regular Audits: Every few months, conduct audits of your online presence. Check data broker sites, social media settings, and any platforms where you've shared your number to ensure your information remains private.

Use Privacy Tools: Tools like DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials or Firefox Monitor can help track where your personal information might be exposed online and alert you to potential breaches.

Update Security Settings: As platforms update their privacy policies and settings, revisit your accounts to adjust your privacy settings accordingly, ensuring they align with your desired level of privacy.

Hide Number Feature: Utilize the "hide number" or "show my caller ID" settings to control how your phone number appears to recipients.

Stay Informed on Digital Privacy Trends and Solutions

Follow Reputable Sources: Subscribe to newsletters or follow blogs from reputable cybersecurity and digital privacy organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

Attend Webinars and Conferences: Participating in digital privacy webinars and conferences can keep you updated on the latest threats and solutions. Many of these events are available online and can be attended virtually.

Educational Resources: Look for related posts and resources on privacy maintenance to stay informed on how to protect your contact information effectively.

Conclusion

Making your phone number unsearchable and keeping that number private is necessity nowadays. Whether you're seeking to remove your phone number from the internet, hide your number from criminal eyes, or ensure your mobile number remains a private number, the steps outlined in this guide offer a comprehensive strategy. From leveraging services for a virtual number to adjusting “Show My Caller ID” settings on your mobile device, the methods are varied and effective. 

If your phone number is listed somewhere it shouldn’t be, or you simply want to make your number private to avoid spam calls and the potential for malicious intent, remember that services like MyDataRemoval can be instrumental in removing your personal information from online phone books and databases. Moreover, adhering to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and utilizing opt-out guides can further safeguard your data.

For those using their phone number to call or text, be aware that even with precautions, your phone number will still be necessary for activities like two-factor authentication—a critical layer of security in protecting against attempts to steal your identity. Therefore, it’s a good idea to manage where and how you add your phone number, from social media to your contact list with your phone service provider.