Private Phone
“In an age of information oversharing, the mobile-phone number is one of the few pieces of personal information that people still choose to guard,” writes Anna Jane Grossman in the International Herald Tribune.

“Unwanted calls are intrusive, time-consuming and can cost money if you are abroad or if, as is often the case in the United States, you pay for incoming calls.”

“Some people have found a way to avoid compromising the sanctity of their cellphone without committing the modern sin of being unreachable. Instead of giving out [their] cell number, [they are] dispersing what has become known as a ‘social phone number’.”

“This is a free number that is as disposable as a Hotmail address. A handful of Web sites are creating these mask numbers, which can be obtained in nearly every U.S. area code. Users can either have a number in their own region, or make it look as if they have an office in New York City when they are actually operating out of rural Maine.”

“For those who sign up, a recording prompts callers to leave a voice-mail message, and a text or e-mail message is then sent to the recipient to announce a new message, which can be picked up on the Web, by e-mail message or by phone.”

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