Internet, Networking, & Security Around the Web Protect Your Privacy Using These Proxy Services Because sometimes you just need a digital bouncer By Andy O'Donnell Writer Andy O'Donnell, MA, is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire and a senior security engineer who is active in internet and network security. our editorial process Andy O'Donnell Updated January 26, 2020 Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty Around the Web How to Get a VPN Tweet Share Email It's kind of scary giving someone your phone number or email address because you never know where it might end up. No one wants to have their private contact information bought and sold to other companies and be added to yet another marketing list so that they receive even more spam than they already have to deal with. Even worse is when your personal information ends up as part of a massive data breach, at that point, spam might be the least of your problems. The point is, you shouldn't have to worry about being spammed via email, text, or phone, simply because you elected to register on a website for a product or service. How can you protect your private email, phone number, and other uniquely identifying data from being abused by marketers and other internet-based hooligans such as identity thieves? The Answer to Your Problems: Proxies A proxy, by definition, is a go-between or a surrogate for something else. Think of a proxy as a middleman (in this case a service and not an actual man). You can use proxy services to hide your true phone number, email address, IP address, etc. Let's take a look at how you can use proxies to your benefit. Phone Proxies Wouldn't it be nice to be able to give out a phone number that people could call that would decide how to handle the call based on who the caller is and what time of day it was? What if the number would route calls to your real phone number(s) without divulging your number in the caller ID field? Google Voice can do all of the above and more for free. You can obtain a Google Voice number for free and use it for all kinds of cool things such as time-based call routing, where it will send calls to whatever phone you want it to, depending on the time of day, and other conditions. Check out our article on how to use Google Voice as a privacy firewall for details on how to obtain a free Google Voice number and to learn what other cool things you can do with it. SMS Text Proxies Google Voice can also be used for text messaging so you can avoid text spammers and other crazies by giving them your Google Voice number instead of your real number You can still use your phone's native texting app to send and receive texts. Google will relay your incoming and outgoing messages so that your real number is never shown. Other anonymous texting options include sites such as Textem and TextPort, which are websites that let you send texts and receive replies via email. Email Proxies Are you sick of constantly giving out your email to every site you register with, knowing that they will likely turn around and sell your info to marketers? The answer to the problem of unwanted marketing spam might be a disposable email address. Throwaway email addresses are great ways to protect your real email address. Want to know more about disposable email addresses? Read Why You Need a Disposable Email Account. IP Address Proxies (VPN) Want to hide your IP address and take advantage of other great features such as anonymous web browsing and the ability to prevent hackers from eavesdropping on your network traffic? Consider investing in a personal VPN service. VPNs, once a luxury, are now available for as little as $5 to $10 a month. They are a great way to shield your true IP address and have many other security-related benefits. Check out our article on Why You Need a Personal VPN for in-depth information on the many other benefits that VPNs can provide you.