Turn Google Voice Into Your Own Private Bouncer or Receptionist

Use Google Voice to screen your incoming calls

Google Voice on laptop and smartphones

Google

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

A Google Voice account and phone number are completely free.

There are plenty of reasons for joining the service. One of the biggest is Google Voice's personal privacy and security features. You can use them as a sort of receptionist or bouncer and set up a privacy firewall to deter spammers and more.

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 hides your real phone number by using the Google Voice one as a go-between. The Google Voice infrastructure that manages call routing, blocking, and all the other 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 can make it harder for people to locate you. Even the most novice internet detective can use a site like Melissa Data's free phone number location lookup. With this site, and others like it, someone can enter your phone number, and the site returns your actual address or provides the county of residence where the phone number is registered. Choosing a different number with a different area code preserves your anonymity and doesn't give away your physical location.

Set a Long Voicemail PIN Number

Everyone knows 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 length to make a stronger voicemail PIN.

Use Google Voice's Advanced Call Screening Features

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

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

Call screening is caller ID-based, which means 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 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 you don't ever want to talk to again. From your Google Voice inbox, select a call from someone you want to block. Then select the More link in the message and choose Block caller. The next time the person calls, they will hear a message saying the number "has been disconnected or is no longer in service" (at least for them).

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.

This feature is hidden, but you can set up time-based routing from the Google Voice Settings screen. Select Phones > Edit (under the phone number of choice) > Show Advanced Settings > Ring Schedule > Use custom schedule.