You’ve just posted your for sale ad on Craigslist for your PlayStation 3 less than fifteen minutes ago and an interested buyer has already responded. You reply back and are able to set up a meeting for next Friday after work to exchange your PlayStation for that sweet $200. However, the buyer asks for your phone number so he can text you in case he’s running late.
“Hmm,” you think to yourself. “Do I really want to give out my phone number to a complete stranger?”
Good news for the paranoid and extra cautious among us: There’s an app that provides users with an extra layer of privacy to their mobile identity. Burner enables users to obtain temporary, disposable numbers for voice and SMS communication without compromising their privacy. As UrbanDaddy says, “Think of this like a fake mustache. For your cell phone.”
How Does it Work?
Burner doles out throwaway numbers that can be used for a day, a week, a month, or longer. The numbers can be used for making phone calls or sending text messages without revealing the personal information of the user. Burner lets you obtain as many numbers as you'd like, each serving as a private, separate line within your iPhone or Android smartphone.
Burner is free to download and doesn't require a contract. And thanks to generous investor backing (to the tune of $2 million), Burner was able to adopt a first-time-is-free marketing approach: The starter disposable number is free and lasts for one week, five phone calls, or 15 text messages – whichever one comes first. After that, users buy credits to apply to various Burner "plans." Three credits sell for $1.99 and 25 credits sell for $11.99, with additional packages in between those two price points available as well. Three credits can buy you two weeks usage, 20 phone calls, or 60 text messages. Be aware that Burner voice minutes are not free per your phone carrier; you will be charged for minutes used. Burner text messages, however, are complimentary.
When done with a number, simply hit its corresponding Burn button and say bye bye to that number forever. If someone calls the number after it’s been burned, they’ll be greeted with a generic out-of-service message.
Burner is developed by Ad Hoc Labs, a Los Angeles mobile software company focused on providing consumers with tools that give them back the control of their personal information with regards to their mobile devices. Prior to launching Ad Hoc Labs, co-founders Greg Cohn and Will Carter worked at Yahoo! and Nokia, respectively.
Burner was introduced in 2012 and, in just a few short months, caught the eye of several Silicon Valley investors. In October 2012, it was announced that Ad Hoc Labs had secured financing from 500 Startups, David Cohen, Ted Rheingold, Scott Marlette, Robert Goldberg, Kevin Slavin, and Ric Calvillo, among other investment funds and individual angels, raising a total of $500,000. By December of that year, it was named to Time Magazine’s Top 10 Apps of 2012 list – a list that featured the likes of Instagram, Google’s Chrome browser, and the news-reading app Flipboard.
Aside from Craigslist buyers and sellers, who else can benefit from Burner?
Private investigators are able to protect their identity when working cases.
Food critics that are well known within their city have a difficult time remaining anonymous when dining out. By making reservations with a Burner number, they’re better able to fly under the radar when chowing down.
Good Samaritans like Will and his wife who found a lost Beagle roaming the streets were able post flyers around town without sacrificing their privacy thanks to the use of a Burner number. Swiper the dog was reunited with her owners within the day.