Make Google Voice your own private bouncer or receptionist.

If you don’t have a Google Voice phone number yet, you’re missing out. Google Voice has some great features that can help you protect your privacy. Plus, you can keep your Google Voice phone number for life, or at least as long as Google is willing to host it.

A Google Voice account and phone number are completely free.

There are many reasons to join this service. One of the most important is the personal privacy and security features of Google Voice. You can use it as a sort of receptionist or bouncer and set up a privacy firewall to deter spammers, among other things.

How to Identify a Google Voice Phone Number

Choose a new Google Voice number

Choose a new Google Voice number rather than porting a number you already have. When you choose a new number, it conceals your real phone number by using Google Voice as an intermediary. Google Voice’s infrastructure, which handles call routing, blocking, and all other features, acts as a privacy firewall between you and the people who call you. Think of your Google Voice number as a receptionist who decides call routing.

Choose a different area code for your Google Voice number

When you select your Google Voice number, you can choose a completely different area code than where you live. Choosing a different area code can make your location more difficult. Even the most novice Internet sleuth can use a site like Melissa Data’s free phone number lookup service. Through this site and others like it, a person can enter your phone number and the site either returns your real address or provides the county of residence where the phone number is registered. Choosing another number with another area code preserves your anonymity and does not reveal your physical location.

Set a long pin code for voicemail

Everyone knows that voicemail hacking is possible because many voicemail systems only use a 4-digit numeric PIN. Google has tightened Google Voice voicemail security by allowing PIN numbers longer than four characters. You should take advantage of this increased length to create a stronger voicemail PIN.

Use Google Voice’s advanced call screening features

If you want to screen your calls like a receptionist would, Google Voice allows for complex call screening.

Newer Google phones, like the Pixel 3a, come with a call screening feature installed.

Call screening is based on caller ID, which means you create personalized outgoing messages for callers based on their identity. You can also decide which phone you want Google to try you on based on caller information. This feature is great for making sure you get calls from loved ones in an emergency, as you can have Google try all your lines and connect the call to the one you answer first.

Call screening is enabled in Settings > Calls > Call screening.

Block unwanted callers

When you need a personal bouncer, Google Voice makes it super easy to block callers you never want to talk to again. In your Google Voice inbox, select the call from someone you want to block. Then select the More link in the message and choose Block caller. The next time that person calls, they’ll hear a message that the number “has been disconnected or is no longer in service” (at least for them).

Enable time-based call routing

With Google Voice, you can have all your calls come to one number and then go to your landline, work phone, cell phone, or voicemail depending on the time of day. It can even send the same caller to all your numbers at once, then route to the one you picked up first.

This feature is hidden, but you can configure time-based routing from the Google Voice settings screen. Select Phones > Edit (under your preferred phone number) > Show advanced settings > Ring schedule > Use custom schedule.

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