In this day and age of multiple phone numbers, and phone numbers for life, it might come as a surprise that you can get a throw-away disposable phone number – a phone number good for a day, six months, or whatever. However, it is completely possible to do just that, and there are several free and non-free services that provide just such a service.

Why would we want such a service, and why would a system administrator wish to recommend one? Privacy is important today, and telemarketing and dangerous individuals exist everywhere. With a disposable phone number – or a service that offers a private phone number – getting phone privacy just became a lot easier. Next time someone tells you they are being harassed to no end by telemarketers or stalkers – try recommending (or using!) one of these:

One is Tossable Digits, a for-pay service. This service offers a free trial, and charges US$3.95 per month for basic service.

Another one is Safe Talk, a British company that activates phone numbers via SMS text messaging from your phone. The cost is £1.50 per phone number valid for one month. The phone number can be cut at any time by you, or it can be extended with another text message.

Another service comes from the people behind Craigslist, called numbr. Numbr offers free numbers in an instant, and also offers free numbers via telephone call. offers MyPrivateLine, which will provide you with a disposable toll-free number. A new account gives 60 minutes free, and $4.99 for another 60 minutes.

PrivatePhone is another service, though it does not appear to offer dispoable numbers (though it. It does appear that you may switch your number at any time, and it is free as well. PrivatePhone is run by the people behind NetZeroVoice (which can only be a NetZero company).

Another free service, which is well-known by now since its purchase by Google, is GrandCentral. While this is not a privacy service, and does not necessarily offer disposable numbers, and such, it offers one extremely valuable service: calls that are found to be telemarketers can be flagged as “spam” by the receiver, and from then on, everyone using the service has the option to reject any call from that number. Is that good or what?

Which ones would I use? I’m currently on GrandCentral, but for other reasons. I like the flexibility it offers, and the features it has. For a throw-away number, I’d use Numbr. I’m also quite intrigued by PrivatePhone, but I’m not sure what it offers that GrandCentral doesn’t – but it certainly (in my opinion) warrants a closer look.