Turn Google Voice Into Your Own Private Bouncer or Receptionist

Use Google Voice to Screen Your Incoming Calls

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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. You can keep your Google Voice phone number for life, or for at least as long as Google is willing to host it.

You can set up your Google Voice account and phone number for free.

Why You Need a Google Voice Number

There are plenty of reasons for getting a Google Voice number. Several of them focus on the personal privacy and security features of Google Voice that you can use to set up your personal privacy firewall to function as a receptionist or bouncer.

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 Google Voice number, it hides your real phone number by using your Google Voice number as a go-between. The Google Voice infrastructure that manages call routing, blocking, and all the other Google Voice features acts as a privacy firewall between you and the people calling you. Think of your Google Voice number as a receptionist that decides how to route calls.

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 from the one where you live. Selecting a different area code prevents someone from using your area code as a means of locating you. Even the most novice internet detective can use a site like Melissa Data's Free Phone Number Location Lookup. Someone can enter your phone number, and the site will return your actual address or provide the county of residence where the phone number is registered.

Choosing a different number for a different area code preserve your anonymity and doesn't give away your physical location. So how do you set up Google Voice as a personal privacy firewall?

Turn on Time-Based Call Routing

With Google Voice, you can have all your calls come to one number and then be routed to either your home phone, work phone, cell phone, or your voicemail depending on the time of day. It can even send the same caller to all of your numbers at the same time and then route the call to whichever one you pick up first.

With Time-based call Routing, you can decide what phone you want to ring depending on what time of day. The feature is hidden, but you can set up time-based routing from the Google Voice Settings screen, where you click Phones > Edit (under the phone number of choice) > Show Advanced Settings > Ring Schedule > Use custom schedule.

Set a Long Voicemail PIN Number

Everyone knows that voicemail hacking is alive and possible because many voicemail systems use only a 4-digit numeric PIN number. Google has beefed up Google Voice's voicemail security by allowing PIN numbers greater than four characters. You should take advantage of the extended PIN length to make a stronger voicemail PIN.

Use Google Voice's Advanced Call Screening Features

If you want Google Voice to screen your calls as a receptionist would, Google has you covered. Google Voice allows for insanely complex call screening.

Call screening is caller ID-based. You create custom outgoing messages for callers based on who they are. You can also decide which phone you want Google to try you on based on the caller's caller ID information. This is a great feature for making sure you get calls from loved ones in emergency situations, as you can have Google try all your lines and connect the call to whichever 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 extremely easy to block callers that you don't ever want to talk to again. From your Google Voice inbox, click on a call from someone you want to block. Then click the More link in the message and choose Block caller. The next time the person calls, they will hear a message saying that the number "has been disconnected or is no longer in service" (at least for them).