Sometimes a new phone number feels like the only relief. But is it?
A phone call from a friend or parent is a welcome gift. Calls from strangers feel like an invasion of privacy.
Sadly, plenty of people abuse what was meant to be a positive communication tool.
Sometimes that looks like “No Caller ID” or “Private Caller” harassers who won’t leave you alone. Other times, it’s a scammer ringing several times a day trying to steal your money or identity.
It’s enough to make throwing your smartphone into the ocean sound like a good idea, if only it didn’t cost so much.
When the number of unwanted calls reaches three, five, ten, or even more each day, starting over with a new phone number can appear to be the shortest path to relief.
That may not be the case, though. Fresh starts like this backfire and can create additional hassles, making the whole thing more trouble than it’s worth.
In this post, we’ll show you why changing your number doesn’t always provide the relief you’re looking for and why a cleanse is better than a fresh start.
A “new” phone number isn’t actually new. It’s recycled.
If you’re trying to escape spam calls, changing your number is a gamble that won’t last long.
Let’s imagine you’ve received 50 spam calls in the last month (although that may be more reality than imagination). The number has grown so high that you can’t take it anymore and change your number. Then, the very next day, an IRS scammer calls you. You’d be furious, right?
Unfortunately, that’s incredibly common.
That’s because phone carriers recycle old numbers. Typically, any “new” number your carrier gives you isn’t new at all. This “new” number has likely been “deactivated” for at least 90 days, but it might be even less in high-demand area codes.
There are lots of people who got what they thought was a “new” number but then received debt collector calls meant for the previous owner of that number. If you change your number, chances are you’ll inherit the previous owner’s phone problems.
Additionally, any number a phone carrier gives you will still be vulnerable to spam calls. If it’s not already part of a series of call center lists, robocall dialers often select numbers randomly, putting a target on every phone number. The amount of spam calls you get may slow down for a brief period, but at the rate robocall volume is increasing, you’ll get them soon enough.
Whatever your new phone number is, you’re either going to inherit unwanted calls or receive them eventually.
Changing your number on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile
Every phone carrier has their own rules for changing your phone number. Most will only let you choose your new area code with the prefix and last seven digits selected randomly, although Verizon will allow you to choose a prefix with random last four digits.
Also, depending on the carrier you have, changing your number could take effect within a few minutes or a few days. And none of the major carriers notify your contacts about your new number for you, which we’ll discuss later.
T-Mobile charges a $15 fee to change your phone number and will delete all of you voicemail messages.
AT&T charges a $36 fee to change your phone number and also removes access to old voicemails.
Verizon doesn’t have any fees. However, if you have an Android phone running Gingerbread (2.3) OS or earlier, changing your number will reset your device and wipe your apps, messages, photos, and any accounts or custom settings.
Sprint doesn’t charge a fee to change your number either, but you will lose your voicemail messages.
An important note: Once you change your phone number, it’s almost impossible to get your old number back.
Updating contact profiles is a major project
Once you change your phone number, there are a host of account profiles that will need updating. Some of these are required while others are good to have.
If you have any loans, your lending institution will often require contact info be kept up to date. While applying for a student loan, lenders make sure borrowers are required to report any change in contact info, whether phone, email address, or mailing address.
Here’s a list of financial institutions you may be required to give a new phone number to:
- Student loan lenders
- Mortgage lenders
- Auto financing lenders
- Banks and credit unions
- Visa, American Express, Mastercard, or any other credit card company
- 401k or IRA account holders
- Investment institutions
Electric, water, gas, garbage, sewer, and other utility companies
Have you ever gone to take a shower but there’s no hot water? Utility companies have occasional outages for repairs. If you’re not prepared when that happens, a cold shower awaits you.
When utilities are shut off, utility companies notify affected residents, but only if they have your number in the first place. Changing your number without updating each of your utility provider accounts is a surefire way to end up with a cold shower.
It’s true. No one likes to get telemarketer calls about upgrading to a “premium” cable package. How many channels do we honestly need?
However, it’s good to know if there are any internet outages or upcoming interruptions, especially for anyone who depends on internet access to work from home.
Hopefully, you never receive a call about an emergency. If there ever is one and you’re the emergency contact for your spouse, partner, or child, you’ll want to get that call. Make sure any new number gets added to the appropriate forms.
There’s no easy way to give your contacts your new number
The unfortunate irony of changing your phone number is that it only takes a few strangers with malicious intentions to be the reason your family and friends don’t have your phone number.
Making sure your friends and family have your new number is one of the most tedious tasks parts of this entire process.
There are a few ways you could go about this:
- You could send hundreds (if not thousands) of text messages.
- You can make an announcement on Facebook. Who hasn’t seen a friend’s post saying “Got a new number – send me a private message if you want it”?
- You can blast every email contact you know (don’t forget to bcc your contacts).
Simply put, there’s no easy way to get a new phone number into the hands of the people who need it.
Plus, you’re trusting that people will actually save your new number. Chances are, some people will forget. We’ve all gotten distracted by a trending tweet or YouTube video.
And inevitably, someone gets missed. They feel sad. You assure them it wasn’t on purpose. It’s a whole awkward thing.
Changing your phone number ends up being a lot of work. That fresh start you might imagine is more like assigning yourself a series of projects for the next few days without any guarantee that it solve your privacy problem.
What we really want is a phone number cleanse
Starting over with a not-so-new number often seems like a quick way to end spam and harassing calls.
But when you realize just how much work it takes to give everyone important your new phone number, and that number may already be the target of spammers best collectors, that fresh start you imagined starts to look pretty bleak.
If you want to end phone harassment from spam, “Private Caller,” and “No Caller ID” calls, your best bet is a cleanse, not a “fresh start.”
That’s what TrapCall does. It allows you to unmask blocked caller IDs and stop spam calls, cleansing your phone from the calls that make you miserable.
And best of all, there are zero risks to trying TrapCall first. Changing your phone number is irreversible, but TrapCall gives you a free 7-day trial to see if it stops those unwanted calls.