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We punch in our digits at the grocery store to get a member discount or at the pharmacy to pick up medication. When we sign up to use apps and websites, they often ask for our phone number to verify our identity. This column will encourage a new exercise. Before you hand over your number, ask yourself: Is it worth the risk? This question is crucial now that our primary phone numbers have shifted from landlines to mobile devices, our most intimate tools, which often live with us around the clock.

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Our mobile phone numbers have become permanently attached to us because we rarely change them, porting them from job to job and place to place. At the same time, the string of digits has increasingly become connected to apps and online services that are hooked into our personal lives. And it can lead to information from our offline worlds, including where we live and more. In fact, your phone number may have now become an even stronger identifier than your full name.

Emre Tezisci, a security researcher at Fyde with a background in telecommunications, took on the task with gusto. He and I had never met or talked. He quickly plugged my cellphone number into a public records directory. Soon, he had a full dossier on me — including my name and birth date, my address, the property taxes I pay and the names of members of my family.

From there, it could have easily gotten worse. Tezisci could have used that information to try to answer security questions to break into my online accounts. Or he could have targeted my family and me with sophisticated phishing attacks.

He and the other researchers at Fyde opted not to do so, since such attacks are illegal. There is no simple solution to this. In some situations, giving your digits to institutions like your bank provides an extra layer of security. But in most cases, the potential dangers and annoyances of handing out your number outweigh the benefits, as you will read below. All that Mr. You can also use site-specific searches if you're looking for someone within a school or business.

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For example: site:pcworld. Social networks are fantastic sources of information--and it's all completely self-volunteered. This is why social networks are particularly handy for employers--because if it's on your Facebook page, it's not only information about you, it's information you've chosen to share with the world. Facebook is indisputably the social networking standby--no surprise, as it boasts million users. You can search for people by name and e-mail address, and modify the results by location, school, and workplace.

If nothing shows up, they may have made their profile private and unsearchable. If that's the case, you can do a site-specific Google search, and any public pages or groups they may have commented on will show up. For example, my personal Facebook profile is private and will not show up in Facebook search results, but if you type site:Facebook.

You can now see my profile picture, as Facebook doesn't allow users to make this private, even if you still can't search for me using Facebook's search.

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Alternatively, you can use Openbook. Other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, are also worth a look. LinkedIn usually reveals much less information about a user, because it's primarily a work-oriented social network. Twitter is a different type of social network. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter asks for very little identifying information from their users. Thus, you'll often find people's Twitter accounts via their Facebook or LinkedIn pages--not necessarily by searching Twitter. Twitter can still give you a wealth of information, though it's more likely to give you an insight into their personality, interests, and style, rather than information you can use to find their address or phone number.

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Okay, so you've Googled your target and discovered all of their sordid beer-bong photos on Facebook, but what you really want is to be able to contact them. How can you get their phone number and address? By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Please check Skype Status for details. What is caller identification and how do I set it up in Skype? Back to search results Caller identification lets your friends, family, and business contacts know that it's you calling them or sending an SMS message.

Additional Resources

Caller identification is free to set up and use. How do I set up caller identification using my mobile number? To set up caller identification using your mobile number: Sign in to your account. In the Manage features section, click Caller ID.


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Select your country from the drop-down list. Enter your mobile number in the text box and click Verify number.

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You will receive an SMS text message on your phone containing a confirmation code. Enter this code in the field displayed.


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Message and data rates may apply to receive this one-time SMS. Click Verify. If you entered the code correctly, you will see a confirmation message, and your Caller ID will be activated in 24 hours.