A free private phone line

Are you tired of getting calls from telemarketers and salespeople? Would you like a phone number that lets you deal with phone calls when you want to, instead of the moment the call is made? You can get a free local telephone number to use online from NetZero, the company that provided free dial-up internet access to the masses.

Here’s a trick to get a good number – switch back and forth between two local cities in your area and keep reloading until you find a number you like.

Here’s what I got: (916) 676-1999

The first reason I like it is because it’s free. I like free stuff.

The second reason: I got to pick my own phone number. I’ve never gotten to do that before.

The third reason: It converts phone calls into e-mails. I prefer to do most of my communication over e-mail rather than on the phone, so this lets people who still like to use the phone get in touch with me through their preferred means without me having to answer the phone.

The free service lets you store up to 10,000 voicemails, allows you to post any voicemail message to the web and has a GottaGo call service where you can schedule an automated call to give you an excuse to leave if you’re in a potentially awkward situation. Additionally, by dialing 2 after listening to a voicemail, you can call the person back using your PrivatePhone number as the caller ID. You get 10 calls of up to 10 minutes each for free each month. There are several configurable options, like the number of rings before it answers, up to 100 blocked phone numbers, whether to send a voicemail alert to your cell phone and disabling call waiting.

Some uses I’ve come up with include:

Valid whois contact info for your domain – I’ve wrestled with putting my valid home phone number as the whois contact info because I don’t want to get unsolicited calls. This solves that problem because I’ll get the voicemail, but it will be in e-mail form.

Contact information on your web site – I’ve never listed my phone number on my site before, but some businesses (and people for that matter) only like to do business over the phone. This allows you to cater to those people.

Business cards – Instead of giving out your cell or home number, which you may not want everyone to have, you can use this free number, blocking anyone who you decide you don’t want to hear from anymore.

Phone number for online registrations and companies – No one likes telemarketers, so whenever you register for something online that requires your phone number, you can use this number instead and let the telemarketers go right to voice mail. The same thing goes for banks, credit card companies, or anyone else who wants your phone number when you don’t really want to give it out.

Poor man’s podcasting – Instead of setting up your personal recording studio to record podcast you can just call your number and leave a podcast, then post the resulting wav file. It also lets you record podcasts anywhere you have a phone.

A few other suggested uses of the phone line that PrivatePhone came up with include.

MySpace or other personal web page applications – People love to post information about themselves. PrivatePhone can be used to setup an outgoing message that invites users to leave a voicemail for you. You can post your PrivatePhone number on MySpace, Friendster, or other social network site as a way of expressing yourself.

Auction or Classified listing point of contact – Many people on auction sites and classifieds hesitate to give out their phone number online. Now you don’t have to worry about giving it out. You can use your PrivatePhone as the primary point of contact in the ad on sites like Craigslist, ebay, LiveDeal, Rapleaf or anywhere.

Online Dating – If you’ve dated online, you have probably wanted to screen potential matches by providing a contact point where you’re not exposing your private information just yet, just in case you don’t want to hear from that stalker type. With the private phone line, you can date online safely by using your free PrivatePhone number. If you start getting annoying voicemails, you can block the caller just like blocking a spammer in your e-mail.

In summary, you can get a free local telephone number, record your own greeting and get an e-mail with the voicemail attached as a wav file whenever someone leaves you a message.

Feel free to give me a call to test it out. I still have room for 9,995 more voicemails.


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  1. It does make an EXCELLENT “Poor Man’s Podcast”.

    I and this other blogger who calls himself “The Dean of Cincinnati” have also used it as a “Hotline” of sorts. Not too terribly many people call it, but, who knows … if we ever start getting a couple of thousand hits a day I’m sure SOMEONE will use it … :)

    Comment by Axinar on January 10, 2007 @ 5:29 pm
  2. Hey that’s a cool idea. I hadn’t thought of using it as a question hotline, but that could be a slick way for people to submit questions.

    Comment by dan on January 11, 2007 @ 6:11 am
  3. Someone just called me asking if I got junk mail from them. The answer is no, because along with the private phone line, you get free e-mail account from them, and they do send various e-mails to that address, but I rarely check it anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

    The only emails I get from them are notifications of a voicemail.

    Comment by dan on July 15, 2007 @ 8:57 pm
  4. I went to NetZero’s website and didn’t see anything about the free phone number and voicemail system. Do you have a link available or a direct address?

    Comment by Ann Marie on August 8, 2009 @ 10:08 am
  5. @Ann Marie Unfortunately they’ve shut down the free service. It’s no longer available, but Google Voice is slowly releasing invites. Here’s some information on it.

    Comment by Dan on August 8, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

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