It seems almost second nature to give out your cell phone number whenever asked. In fact, it’s usually a required field when setting up an online profile with most service providers. If you have an account with any of the major email providers or a profile on any social media network, chances are you’ve associated your phone number with your various accounts at some point.
While adding a phone number for 2-step verification purposes can potentially add an extra layer of security to your accounts, it can also give hackers a vital piece of information they need to cause you grief.
Your cellphone number is much more than a bunch of digits. It can be used as a link to your private information including banking info, sensitive emails, and any “not-so-public” social media interactions. It can be used to monitor and predict what you buy, what websites you view online, and potentially what movies and TV shows you watch. To take it one step further, individuals can use your phone number and a bit of social engineering to convince a customer service rep that they are in fact you, and gain access to many of your accounts.
As our cell phone numbers become increasingly valuable, we should start becoming wary of giving out our number unless it’s absolutely necessary. Think about it- other pieces of sensitive information that are unique to a person (such as your social security number) are legally regulated, yet your cell phone number is not. To ensure your personal security, why not treat your cell phone number with the same caution as your social security number?
Companies are required to keep social security numbers and other similar information private, yet cell phone numbers can be found with relative ease and can even be sold to telemarketers or other data collection agencies. In fact, a cell phone number can be even more useful than a social security number because typically, a cell number is often tied to more databases than your social security number. This makes it easier to gather more information on you and potentially hack your bank account, email addresses, and more.
Another key factor is that your cell phone number is tied to a device you literally carry around with you for the majority of your day. This means location data can also be recovered from your cell phone number, something a social security number cannot provide.
When coming up with your New Year resolutions for 2017, resolve to be more selective with your cell phone number! You may find that this small change will help keep you happy and safe throughout the New Year.