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If I signed up for an internet service with my phone number, a brand that bought my digits from an ad firm could upload them into an ad tech tool to correlate the number with my online profile and serve targeted ads.

A shady marketing agency could add my number to a database to blast me with spam calls and text-messaged promotions. There are some situations when sharing your phone number is reasonable. When you enter your user name and password to get into your online banking account, the bank may call or text you with a temporary code that you must enter before you can log in.

This is a security mechanism known as two-factor verification.

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In this situation, your phone number is a useful extra factor to prove you are who you say you are. But which companies should you trust with your phone number? Plenty of tech companies let you use your phone number to protect your accounts from unauthorized access. But even some legitimate brands like Facebook have been scrutinized for improper use of phone numbers.

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She added that when a user set up two-step verification with a phone number, the company would not use the information to serve targeted ads. But when large companies like Facebook abuse your digits, whom do you trust?

That includes first asking yourself whether the benefits of giving out your phone number outweigh the potential risks. You might also want to set up a second phone number to cloak your personal digits altogether. Apps like Google Voice and Burner let you create a different number that you can use for calls and texts. As for two-factor authentication, most tech companies offer other verification options.

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They include apps that generate temporary security codes or a physical security key that can be plugged in. Generally, those are safer to use than a phone number.

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If you have business cards with your personal number printed on them, shred them and order new ones with just your office line. Eventually, I spoke to Mr. Tezisci about his experience tracking me. He said he was surprised by how easily a person could be targeted with a single set of numbers.

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And I selected the legal options. If I were a scammer, I would have gone for your relatives. Log In.

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How your phone number exposes you It took only an hour for my cellphone number to expose my life. In an hour, this is what came up : My current home address, its square footage, the cost of the property and the taxes I pay on it. My past addresses from the last decade.

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The full names of my mother, father, sister and aunt. My lack of a criminal record. Marketers could also take advantage : An ad tech agency could add my number to a detailed profile about me, linked to other information about my identity and web-browsing activities. Unfortunately, there is no neat solution. It all involves work. Since , ReversePhoneLookup.

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Our completely free lookup has saved visitors tens of millions of dollars which they would have otherwise spent had they decided to use a fee-based service. We are extremely happy and proud to be a part of this, just as we were when we produced our first millionth phone report read more here. Our free phone lookup can help you see exactly who is trying to contact you. From there you can decide, whether to open the lines of communication with the caller or not.

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