With the endless supply of apps on our smartphones, it’s easy to forget sometimes that we can also still use our phones to send texts and make phone calls. Since privacy and online safety concerns have become more and more pressing the past few years, you might believe there’s no way to text or call anonymously. Luckily, there is.
Most people use their real name when setting up their smartphone and link the device to their personal email address. As such, most phone numbers are linked to an active email address and can usually be traced to its owner. However, there are multiple ways to call and text anonymously with just a few simple tricks or third-party apps.
Do you want to call someone, but don’t you want this person to have your personal phone number? Or do you want to send texts as a private sender? Perhaps you’d just prefer to communicate with someone in a secure and encrypted way, so no one but the two of you has access to your communication. All of these options are available to any smartphone user. Here’s how you do it.
There are plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want certain people or organizations to have your personal phone number. You may want to avoid telemarketers, scams, robocalls, or even stalkers, for example. However, the default setting for any smartphone is to display your phone number when you call someone.
In order to call anonymously, you have to hide your caller ID in the settings of your phone app. When you do this, the person you call won’t see your actual phone number, but just that they’re being called by a “private number”. Different mobile operating systems have different configurations for hiding your caller ID , but we’ll take you through the basic settings for devices running on Android or iOS.
Hiding caller ID in Android
There are many versions of Android on the market. With new versions coming out, the settings menu is often adjusted over time. If your phone isn’t fully updated or uses a different developer skin (such as Samsung’s or Motorola’s custom designs), there’s a chance your settings menu will look slightly different from the screenshots shown here. In this case, you can simply look for the right keywords, and you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for. The screenshots for this tutorial have been taken on a OnePlus model running on Android 9.
Want to hide your caller ID on an Android device? Follow the following steps:
- Open the phone app on your device. This is the app you use to call others. The app is usually placed on the home screen in the bottom left corner and looks like a (green) square with a phone in it.
- Tap on the three dots in the top right corner and select “Settings”.
- Open “Call Settings”.
- Select the SIM card you’re currently using. If you only have one SIM card in your smartphone, you can skip this step.
- Go to “additional settings”.
- Tap on “Caller ID”.
- Select “Hide Number”.
From now on, your phone number will no longer be visible to anyone you call. This is great for your privacy, but can also have a negative side. Don’t be surprised if fewer people suddenly answer their phone when you ring them.
Hiding Caller ID in iOS (iPhone)
Just like with Android, it’s very simple to hide your caller ID in iOS as well. Here’s how you do it:
- Open the settings on your iPhone.
- Select “Phone”.
- Select “Show my Caller ID”.
- Toggle “Show my Caller ID” so the option is turned off.
Making a single anonymous call
It’s also possible to call someone privately by adding a small code in front of the number you’re calling. The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to go through all of your settings and then change it back when you want your number to be visible again. If it’s just a single private phone call you’re after, all you have to do is figure out what code to add for your particular country.
|*67||United States (except AT&T), Canada (landline), New Zealand (Vodafone phones)|
|#31#||United States (AT&T phones), Australia (mobile), Albania, Argentina (mobile), Bulgaria (mobile), Denmark, Canada (mobile), France, Germany (some mobile providers), Greece (mobile), India (only after network unlock), Israel (mobile), Italy (mobile), Netherlands (KPN phones), South Africa (mobile), Spain (mobile), Sweden, Switzerland (mobile)|
|*31#||Argentina (landline), Germany, Switzerland (landline)|
|*31*||Greece (landline), Iceland, Netherlands (most carriers), Romania, South Africa (Telkom phones)|
|0197||New Zealand (Telecom or Spark phones)|
|1167||Rotary phones in North America|
|*9#||Nepal (NTC prepaid/postpaid phones only)|
|*32#||Pakistan (PTCL phones)|
|*23 or *23#||South Korea|
|141||United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland|
If your phone works via a GSM network (like most Androids), you can always dial #31# to block your caller ID. Same goes for if you’re still not sure which code to use. #31# works in most cases.
It’s also possible to send out anonymous texts via special websites. If you plan on doing this, please be aware that there are many fake websites around offering bogus texting services. They promise to send on your text messages, but instead try to install malware on your device. Meanwhile, your text is never even sent. Should you ever receive a strange text from an unknown source, make sure never to click on any links inside the message. This could seriously compromise your device.
One reliable website that actually sends out your anonymous texts is anonymoustext.com. The procedure on their website is very straightforward and the site is very easy to use. If you want to use this service, you can do so by following these steps:
- Go to the anonymoustext.com website.
- Choose how you want the sender to appear on the recipient’s device. The most obvious choice is to keep this on “Anonymous”. However, you can also choose for either a UK or US phone number to be displayed.
- Type in the phone number of the recipient. Don’t forget to add the correct country code!
- Enter the message you wish to send.
- Select whether you want to send it now or at a later date.
- Click continue
- Pay for your text. You can do so either via PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or by credit card.
Anonymoustext.com offers a reliable service, but isn’t exactly cheap. A single text will cost you as much as $1.25. However, there are special options available in case you wish to send more than just one anonymous text:
“Sending a text costs $1.25 per message. A long text of more than 160 characters costs $0.25 more per extra message. You can pay with PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay or a credit card. It’s a single payment, and there’s no subscription attached. The recipient of the text message will not be charged.”
Encrypted VoIP and text messaging
Perhaps your concern isn’t necessarily that you want to stay anonymous to the person you’re communicating with. If you’d rather stay hidden from any outsiders who might be spying on your conversation, there are a number of third party apps available to communicate privately. Thankfully, these alternative apps are mostly free and available to all online users.
The default apps that come with your smartphone usually aren’t sufficiently protected against possible surveillance. Therefore, we’ll be suggesting two alternatives that can greatly decrease the likelihood that anyone is listening in on your conversation. As such, these are great tools for whistleblowers, journalists, people living in autocratic countries, or for anyone who simply wants to communicate privately. There are more private messaging apps available, but the two suggested here, Signal and Linphone, have a steady record of providing safe communication for any online user. A good source for checking private communication software is privacytools.io.
Signal: encrypted calling and texting
Signal was designed specifically for safe, encrypted communication. All of its texts and phone calls are secured through end-to-end encryption. Apart from this, Signal boasts a number of useful features, such as a timer for messages to self-destruct. Signal is completely free and available for Android, iPhone, and Windows.
Linphone: encrypted VoIP
If you want to videocall someone in a safe and secure manner, Linphone is a very decent option. The software is completely open-source and available for free. It’s available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux and Android. All of the messages sent through Linphone are secured with end-to-end encryption.
There are multiple ways to text and call safely and anonymously. You can hide your caller ID, use an external website to send out your messages, or use of a third-party app that provides end-to-end encryption for any messages you send. A final note we want to make clear, is that these tips and tools exist to provide users with security and anonymity. They don’t exist so you can use them to abuse or harass others. Multiple people have gotten into trouble after bothering others over the phone using anonymous phone numbers. Your privacy is important, but it should not come at the expense of others.