How to Make Your Phone Number Unsearchable

There are many good reasons you might want to hide your phone number. From being targeted by a stalker all the way down to simply being fed up with telemarketers and robocalls interrupting dinner.

Having your phone number easily searchable online puts you at greater risk of experiencing phishing attempts, being contacted by scammers, and even having your identity stolen. But there’s a lot you can do to help keep your phone number private.

Updated on: October 03, 2023

How to make your phone number unsearchable

In short:

To make your number unsearchable on the internet, you must eliminate it from all sites such as people search platforms & data brokers, public records, and social media platforms. By doing so, your phone number will also be removed from Google, as pages that are removed will drop from Google’s index.”

Let’s deep dive on how to do that in detail.

Type your name and phone number into a search engine (or two)

Start where someone trying to search your number would probably start: with a Google search. Use a private search engine to search for your name, your phone number, and both together. Google search results are heavily filtered, so try the same three searches on something like DuckDuckGo as well.

These searches will give you a good idea of how searchable your number is right now.

Following the steps below will have your personal information fading from the search results. But keep in mind that this can take months. The next step, at least, will take effect immediately.

Remove your mobile number from all people search sites (and Google)

A lot of the hits you got in your searches in step one were probably from people search sites. These are data brokers that specialize in scraping and crawling the web for personal information and giving or selling access to that information.

Thanks in large part to state laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), all people search sites must offer an opt-out procedure for people who want their data removed from these sites’ search results.

NB: You should never have to pay any fees or set up an account to have your information removed from these sites. Consider lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) if a company refuses to remove your information without payment.

Incogni has detailed opt-out guides for all the major people search sites you’re likely to come across. These guides will walk you through the process of having your personal information removed as quickly as possible while helping you to avoid the pitfalls. If you want to make your number unsearchable, you must remove it from all these sites and create some sort calendar to check routinely whether there is new info out there.

Online phone books like WhitePages fall into the people search site category. If your number appears in a local phone book, contact the publisher to have it removed from the next edition.

You can also skip most of the hassle by subscribing to Incogni’s automated data removal service.

Take your data off PSS and hundreds* of data brokers with Incogni

Your data is worth more than oil in the digital age and data brokers are making bank at your expense.

Subscribe to Incogni for just $6.49 per month and get: 

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* See the full list of data brokers Incogni covers here.

Stop other data brokers from passing your phone number around

People search sites are just one kind of data broker. Most have no interest in making their records—your information—searchable by random people online. Instead, they prefer to share and sell access to their databases from behind the scenes. The solution is as simple as it is labor-intensive.

These other data brokers still have to make opt-out procedures available to people who want to keep their information private. You don’t need to know if a company has your data to submit a data removal request. So you can just send opt-out requests out blind, right? Yes, and no.

With hundreds of data brokers known to operate in the US alone, there are a couple of problems with the spam approach. First, you have to find all the data brokers that might have your personal information. You can do some research to find out which are most active in your geographical area or industry.

Second, each data broker has a different opt-out procedure than the last, and some of them take a lot of time and effort to complete. So once you have your hard-won list of data brokers, you might want to see if you can cross some more off the list. Incogni’s researchers estimate that it’d take 304 hours to complete one round of opt-out requests.

This is where an automated personal information removal service like Incogni really comes into its own. Incogni does all the tracking and triage for you. It also sends out dozens of requests at a time, keeps track of and handles data brokers’ responses, and restarts the whole process a few times a year to keep your data from reappearing.

Curious about the surge in spam calls? Explore this post to understand the factors causing it.

Remove your phone from social media platforms

Your phone number is probably all over the web, even if it’s an unlisted number, but you might be putting it out there yourself without even realizing it. Check your social media profiles and settings and pay attention to which chat apps broadcast your mobile number.

Most social media platforms have menu options and additional settings to keep your number private. Some chat apps also offer settings like this. Both Facebook and Telegram offer what are essentially “hide number” settings, with Telegram offering public usernames to allow users to interact with strangers without sharing their phone numbers.

The safest apps and services are those that never ask for your number in the first place. Chat protocols like Matrix and apps like Threema don’t require a phone number to set up an account. An authenticator app like Aegis can sometimes be used in place of providing a phone number for two-factor authentication (2FA).

Want to learn more on how make other social media profiles more private? Check out these resources:

How to keep your phone number private?

Working to make your number unsearchable and keeping your number private are two different things. The following won’t directly contribute to making your number unsearchable, but they’re good practices in and of themselves, and might be just what you need.

Think twice before you call or text

Don’t use your phone number to enter sweepstakes and don’t use it to text or call into competitions or services, especially those that involve premium numbers. Your number is likely to be added to various marketing lists, leading to your being bombarded with spam and scams.

Don’t share your phone number when buying or selling online

There’s almost always at least one alternative available right there on the platform on which you’re buying or selling. Whether an in-app or on-site chat function or good, old-fashioned (masked) email, you have options to keep your phone number private. All it takes is one phone call and your number’s out there.

Block Caller ID on your phone

Of course, you could block the caller ID on your phone to stop whoever you’re calling from seeing your number. You could even have your phone display someone else’s caller ID, although you should verify the legality of this in your area.

On an Android phone, open the Google Voice app, tap on “menu,” and then on “settings.” Under “calls”, turn “anonymous caller ID” on. On an Apple iPhone, go to “settings,” “phone,” “show my caller ID” and turn the option off. Your phone number will still be displayed during FaceTime calls, though.

If you’re a Verizon customer, you might find that the above methods don’t work or aren’t accessible from your phone settings. You can still make your phone number private by logging into your Verizon account and turning on “caller ID blocking” there.

To block caller ID on a call-by-call basis, simply dial “*67” before the number you want to call. Make a test call to a trusted friend or relative first to make sure this method really does keep your phone number private.

Related: How to block No caller ID calls on iPhone

Add your number to the Do Not Call Registry

Adding your number(s) (landline or mobile) to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry won’t make it less searchable, but it will cut down on the number of telemarketing calls you receive. Registration is free and you should see telemarketing phone calls drop to zero within a month.

Have your phone number removed from Google search results

You’d think this would be the go-to method for hiding your phone number from searches. There are two reasons why it’s not. Google’s search engine is just one among many, even if you could get your number off of Google’s search results, it’d still be up on all those other search engines.

Secondly, Google (or Alphabet Inc.) isn’t in the business of excluding search results for just any reason. Unless you can prove malicious intent and/or imminent danger, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get Google to make your number unsearchable. Contacting site owners individually is the better option here.

We have a detailed guide on removing personal information from Google search—it might make sense to try in your particular circumstances.

Revoke app permissions or delete unsafe apps

Any app that requests access to your phone number could be leaking or intentionally sharing your number with any number of bad actors. Free games and other unpaid apps are particularly likely to raid your phone for personal information to steal.

Check out our research article to get a better idea of the dangers involved and what you can do to avoid or reduce them.

Keep an eye on data breaches that might involve your phone number

A data breach can certainly leave your personal data exposed, and phone numbers are often among the leaked details. Keep track of which of your accounts have been breached by visiting the “have I been pwned?” website. Enter your email address or addresses and phone numbers one by one to see which have had associated accounts compromised.

Related guides:

Removing your data doesn’t have to be complicated

It’s easy for data brokers to find and sell your most sensitive information. Taking your data off the market should be just as easy! For just $6.49 per month, Incogni sends out hundreds of recurring opt-out requests*.

Don’t waste any more time opting out one by one. Let us deal with data brokers, so you don’t have to!

Use DATA-REMOVAL-APR at checkout to get an additional 10% discount.

* See the full list of data brokers Incogni covers here.

How do I make my phone number unsearchable?

To make your phone number unsearchable, run a search for it yourself. Then, go to each site where your number is listed and do the following. If it’s a people search site, fill out a request to have your data removed. Remove your number or make it private if it’s a social media site.

What else do you need to disappear completely from the internet?

Is it possible to make your phone number completely unsearchable?

Ultimately, it’s not possible to make your number completely unsearchable. You could get very close to a completely private number, but only at the expense of usability. You could, for example, get a new number or burner phone and do everything possible to keep that number private.
The thing is, the more you use your phone, the more your number will leak out there, potentially ending up in the hands of bad actors. The better approach is to be aware of the dangers, to keep on top of data brokers, and not to give your number to companies like Facebook/Meta.

How do I remove my mobile number from unwanted sites?

To remove your mobile number, go to each unwanted site. If the unwanted site is a people search site, you can remove your number from it by filling out an opt-out form. You can also remove your mobile number from social media or make it private and add your number to the Do Not Call Registry.

How do I keep my phone number private?

You can make your number private by dialing *67 before tapping the number you want to call. The recipient will see “private” or “anonymous” instead of your number. You can also hide your caller ID on your mobile device in the settings.

How do I remove my number from Internet searches?

To remove your number from internet searches, search for it online and make a list of relevant results. You can submit a removal request to Google. But even better, you can remove it from the source: opt out of people search sites, delete it from social media, and contact site owners individually.

How prevent my phone from being tracked?

The best way to block phone tracking is by using a VPN. Other ways to prevent phone tracking are hiding your location by adjusting your mobile phone settings or switching to a privacy-focused browser.

What does * 57 do on a cell phone?

*57 is a phone trace service. You can use it on a cell phone to record meta-data for a police follow-up. Dial *57 after a malicious phone call to record the phone number, even if it was private, the date and time of the call.

What does * 82 mean on a cell phone?

Use the star code *82 to disable the caller ID block temporarily. Some recipients will reject your call if you use a caller ID to hide your phone number. To turn off the ID block for one call, dial *82 before tapping the recipient’s number.

What does * 68 do on a cell phone?

The star code *68 will redirect unanswered calls to a different number instead of your voicemail or answering machine. To use it, dial *68, followed by the forwarding number.

What can someone do with just your phone number?

Your phone number can be used to commit fraud. Scammers can target you with phishing attacks, scam calls, and text messages. If you click on a malicious link in a text or give up your personal information to a scammer, they can do even more, including accessing your financial accounts.

Is it OK to give someone your phone number?

Yes, if it’s someone you trust. Making your phone number publicly available on the internet or giving it to strangers puts you at risk of unwanted calls, spam messages, phishing attempts, and identity theft.

Can someone steal my identity with my phone number?

Yes, people can steal your identity using your phone number, but it requires a few extra steps. The hacker attempting to steal your identity would have to make you give up your personal information on a call or send you a link via a text message, taking you to a form to fill out with your details.

What are the risks of giving someone your phone number?

Your phone number can provide access to highly sensitive personal information. The risks of giving someone your phone number are phishing attacks, scam calls, and identity theft. Be very careful when sharing your phone number with others.

Can someone hack my phone by texting me?

You cannot be hacked by receiving a text message. However, if there is a link within the message and you click on it, you may download malware or it may redirect you to a website designed to steal your private information.

What can a scammer do with my name and phone number?

Receiving a text message will not get your phone hacked. However, if there is a link within the text message and you click on it, you may download malware, or it may redirect you to a website designed to steal your private information.

When should you give your phone number online dating?

The best time to give your phone number is a day before your date. You risk scam calls and malware attacks if you add your phone number to your online dating profile.

Should I let a stranger use my phone?

Never let a stranger use your phone. Allowing a stranger to use your phone may compromise the security and privacy of your data. The stranger could use the phone to make calls or send messages containing sensitive information. They could also steal your device or damage it.

What info can be stolen from your phone?

A lot of data can be stolen from your phone. Personal information such as your name and address. Communication data, including call logs and texts. Application data: credentials to access apps. Location, health stats, and financial information such as credit card numbers.

Is it safe to give an online friend your phone number?

It is not safe to give your phone number to an online friend. Sharing personal contact information with someone you only know online increases the risk of potential scams, spam calls, and privacy breaches.

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