It can be dangerous to give out your phone number to people you don’t know, and that’s normally the case when a website asks you for your phone number. Fortunately, just like with anonymous email addresses and debit cards, you can also grab an anonymous, virtual phone number to mask your real number.When you use a virtual phone number, only that number is known, not your real number, even though the virtual number might ring your real phone to establish the phone call. Anyone you call, and anyone who calls your virtual number, cannot see your real phone number.
In the past, clients and consumers were wary of businesses operating from their homes. Knowing this, many home business owners sought ways, many of which were expensive, to hide the fact they worked home. They’d obtain a box at a local mail store and hire an answering service. Today, home based businesses are normal and only a few clients or consumers question it. Further, the options to create a professional identity, have become more affordable.
For a small business, virtual PBX services are a godsend. They provide a small business with all of the bells and whistles of a robust, business-class phone system for as low as $10/ month.They work with your existing phone lines; they have cool apps that make them easy to manage; they make it possible for your whole team to be contacted through one number; and they are easy to scale. There is one catch that you should be aware of: the number you are assigned through a virtual PBX service may not be “portable.”
What does it mean for a number to not be portable? It means that you can’t take the number with you if you decide to change services. Unlike cell phone services, residential and business VoIP phone services, and traditional landline companies, virtual PBX services are not required by the FTC to let you take your number with you (unless it’s an 800 number) to another service.
There are two solutions to this problem:
1 Sign up with a virtual PBX provider that allows you to port your number out. (RingCentral Mobile is a high quality service that we have verified does allow this.)
2 Sign up with whichever virtual PBX provider you prefer that doesn’t charge for porting a number into the service and verify that you like the service. (Most don’t, but you can double check that the one you like doesn’t by looking at the “Numbers” section of our Detailed Reviews grid, such as this one for Phone.com.) Then, sign up with a low cost phone service provider that doesn’t require a long term contract (like a residential VoIP provider). Port your number from the low cost phone service provider to the virtual PBX service and then cancel the phone service.
The first method is the easiest and the cheapest. The second method is significantly more complicated, but it will ensure that the number is legally yours according to the FTC.