Give out your number

Though we all know that our phone number is private and important to us, as an individual or a business, there is something seemingly arbitrary about giving it out to someone, especially in the unassuming environment of the Internet.

It’s getting more and more difficult to keep our personal phone number to ourselves, but with a few key steps, you can protect it from the spammers and scammers.

Don’t give out your phone number. This is rule #1.

We’re all on the defense against unwanted calls, but where are they coming from? How did they get your phone number? Somewhere along the line, you gave it to some organization or business, whether consciously or unbeknownst to you.

When you are filling out a web form for anything online, just don’t include your phone number unless it’s for a reputable organization that actually needs it. Even then, be sure to read their privacy policy to make sure they do not share your information.

Sometimes just the act of writing in your phone number constitutes tacit consent for that company to share it with third parties. You have to read the fine print. If it’s just some random signup form, there’s no reason you should ever include your phone number.

Don’t let the cashier fool you.

You know when you’re buying some little item in a retail store, standing up at the counter, and the employee asks you for your phone number as if it’s a normal requirement? Don’t do it. You’ll get some pushback from the cashier, but if they insist that you have to provide it, then just give a fake number.

This is where it all starts—just don’t give out your phone number. Your phone number is like your home address; it’s nobody’s business but yours, and yours to give out only when you choose to.

It is now necessary to actively combat malicious callers.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where scammers and malicious marketers are constantly trying to obtain your private phone number and invade your personal life, but that’s what they’re doing.

They are working every day to find new ways to circumvent the laws against harassing calls. This means that, if you are to block their efforts, you have to actively protect your privacy. To protect your phone number, you can:

  • Register your phone number on the DNC (Do Not Call) list.
  • Report malicious calls to the FCC.
  • Don’t give out your phone number.

We hope that you will continue to join us on our journey as we help you Grow Your Business! Our blog is 100% free and you don’t have to be a Talkroute customer to benefit from our materials. However, if you would like to try Talkroute’s Virtual Phone System for free, you can sign up for a trial here. See you in a few days.

About The Author

Patrick Foster is the Content Marketing Manager @ Talkroute
Email Patrick

Patrick Foster is the Content Marketing Manager @ Talkroute
Email Patrick

Assuming you have your strong passwords in place and your two-factor authentication set up, you think your accounts are now safe? Think again. There’s much more to be done.

You might think your Social Security or bank account numbers are the most sensitive digits in your life. Nowadays, hackers can do far more damage with little effort using just your cell phone number. But unlike your Social Security number, you’re far less likely to keep your cell phone number a secret — otherwise nobody can contact you!

Whether you’re an AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile customer, every cell phone number can be a target for hackers. And it takes remarkably little effort to wreak havoc to your online life.

Why you need to protect your phone number

Your cell phone number is a single point of failure.

Think about it. You use your cell phone number all the time. You use it when you sign up to sites and services, and sometimes you’ll use it to log into an app or a game on your phone. Your phone number can be used to reset your account if you forget your password. And, you use it for two-factor authentication to securely login to your accounts.

If someone steals your phone number, they become you — for all intents and purposes. With your phone number, a hacker can start hijacking your accounts one by one by having a password reset sent to your phone. They can trick automated systems — like your bank — into thinking they’re you when you call customer service. And worse, they can use your hijacked number to break into your work email and documents — potentially exposing your employer up to data theft.

Just think of every site and service that has your phone number. That’s why you need to protect your phone number.

How do hackers steal cell phone numbers?

It’s easier than you might think. Phone numbers can be found anywhere – thanks in part to so many data breaches.

Often, hackers will find the cell phone number of their target floating around the internet (or from a phone bill in the garbage), and call up their carrier impersonating the customer. With a few simple questions answered — often little more than where a person lives or their date of birth, they ask the customer service representative to “port out” the phone number to a different carrier or a SIM card.

That’s it. As soon as the “port out” completes, the phone number activates on an attacker’s SIM card, and the hacker can send and receive messages and make calls as if they were the person they just hacked.

In most cases, the only sign that it happened is if the victim suddenly loses cell service for no apparent reason.

From there, it’s as simple as initiating password resets on accounts associated with that phone number. Facebook, Gmail, Twitter — and more. A hacker can use your hijacked phone number to steal all of your cryptocurrency, take over your vanity Instagram username or maliciously delete all of your data.

You can read what happened to TechCrunch’s own John Biggs when his phone number was hijacked.

In the worst cases, it can be difficult or impossible to get your phone number back — let alone the accounts that get broken into. Your best bet is to make sure it never happens in the first place.

What you can do to protect your phone number

Just like you can apply two-factor authentication to your online accounts, you can add a secondary security code to your cell phone account, too.

You can either call up customer services or do it online. (Many feel more reassured by calling up and talking to someone.) You can ask customer service, for example, to set a secondary password on your account to ensure that only you — the account holder — can make any changes to the account or port out your number.

Every carrier handles secondary security codes differently. You may be limited in your password, passcode or passphrase, but try to make it more than four to six digits. And make sure you keep a backup of the code!

For the major carriers:

  • AT&T has a guide on how to set up extra security on your account.
  • T-Mobile allows you to set up a customer passcode.
  • Verizon explains how you can add a PIN to your account.
  • Sprint also lets you add an account PIN for greater security.

If your carrier isn’t listed, you might want to check if they employ a similar secondary security code to your account to prevent any abuse. And if they don’t, maybe you should port out your cell phone number to a carrier that does.

You’re sharing your cell phone number too frequently

Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this story gave the wrong federal agency that previously employed Thomas Martin.

No matter what Americans do to protect their digital privacy, especially on our handheld devices, it’s impossible to keep up with new threats. Now, there’s a new risk to our privacy and security: Our cell phone numbers are being used increasingly by information brokers as the window to personal information that’s kept by nearly all corporations, financial institutions, and, yes, social media networks.

Among those sounding the alarm bell is private investigator and former Drug Enforcement Agency agent Thomas Martin, who recently wrote a blog post titled, “Your cell phone number is your new Social Security number.” Martin’s message was clear: We are way too lackadaisical about keeping our numbers private.

“If someone you had just met asked you for your social security number, you would likely not give it to them. What if the same person asked you for your cell phone number? My guess is that you would readily tell them the ten-digit number,” he writes.

Well, too many of us are likely to divulge our ten-digit number in a flash, as millions of us do in stores and online on a daily basis. Your cell phone number, unique to you, is the gateway to your identity. It provides an entrance to all the data contained on your phone, and can connect your other information to you – your email address, physical address—everything.

Phone number identity theft is a big problem. Last year, approximately 161,000 consumers had mobile phone accounts taken over, compared to 84,000 in 2015, according to Javelin Strategy & Research in Pleasanton, Calif.

More on cybersecurity:

5 ways to test your computer’s security

Why our credit cards keep getting hacked

Britney Spears’ Instagram account used by Russian hackers

Once Martin told me all this, I started to pay attention to how often I’m asked for my cell number, either in person or online. Amazon does. Netflix, too. My bank. My health insurance company. And just the other day, shoe retailer Johnston & Murphy demanded it when I was buying a $69 belt. I balked, and they let me buy the belt anyway—but when I went back to return it a few days later, the clerk said: “You can’t return it without providing your cell number.” I explained I didn’t want it in the company’s database, so she made up a number to type in, but not before smiling at me and saying with a scary smile: “We want all the information about you we can get.”

Yes, I know. Of course, when I called the retailer in Nashville, Tenn., vice president of e-commerce Heather Marsh told me asking for a phone number is all about the consumer’s convenience. It makes shopping faster because it’s “easier to get to your records” if you’ve made a purchase there before. Marsh promised me it’s not used for marketing—but that’s only one leg of this two-legged monster. Once in the database, your phone number becomes another piece of personally identifying data. But unlike our Social Security numbers, “this number is not regulated, and no companies are mandated to keep it private,” Martin explained.

Our mobile phone numbers are a “tasty target” for attackers these days, says JD Sherry, chief revenue officer at cyber security company Remediant. Most Americans have gotten wise to phishing as an entry point to email breaches, but Sherry is eager to discuss an emerging trend called SMiShing (pronounced “smishing”). “This is the act of sending a text message containing questionable links to websites that might not be in your best interest to visit,” he said.

“The bad guys,” as Sherry calls the hacker class, want to steal your credentials or install malicious software so, for instance, they can log into your banking site as you. Then, we all know what can be done: Monies transferred. Checks written. Stocks sold.

Even seemingly innocuous requests like the one from the Johnston & Murphy sales clerk can open a Pandora’s box. While Marsh said the company doesn’t use the data for marketing, the fact that they now have it means it could be hacked. “Customer phone numbers have been stolen in a large variety of data breaches including those of Anthem, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Walgreens, and Yahoo,” Eric Vanderburg, director of information systems and security at Jurinnov Ltd., explained. All true.

What you can do:

1. Use common sense: If you’re asked for your phone number, ask why. In general, don’t give it out to people you don’t know see if you can leave it blank on online forms—even if that means it may take a few seconds more to identify you the next time you make a purchase.

2. Get a virtual phone number: This is similar to a virtual credit card number, where you have what’s essentially a fake number as your public number. Here’s where you can get one from Google Voice. https://voice.google.com

3. Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication on all your devices: This is what happens every time you go to an ATM: to make a withdrawal you need both your debit card and a PIN number. That’s two-factor authentication, which amps up the level of security on your devices.

4. Sign up for the “do not call” lists, which are helpful for run-of-the-mill solicitations. JD Sherry warned me, however that “hackers don’t subscribe to such lists.” Well, at least you won’t get as many pesky marketing calls.

5. Get more than one cell phone: Former DEA agent Tom Martin has three, but he only gives out the number to the phone that contains no data or links to personal information.

6. Choose which private data you are willing to share: When asked for your cell number, especially at a retailer, you may be able provide an email address, zip code or just your name as a way to identify you. It’s worth asking about.

Of course, all of this takes more time and effort and raises the larger question: How much privacy and security are we willing to trade away for a little more convenience? That’s up to each of us to decide.

How much of your security are you willing to forego for convenience? Let me know in the comment section below.

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.

How your phone number exposes you

It took only an hour for my cellphone number to expose my life.

All that Mr. Tezisci, the researcher, had to do was plug my number into White Pages Premium, an online database that charges $5 a month for access to public records. He then did a thorough web search and followed a data trail — linking my name and address to information in other online background-checking tools and public records — to track down more details.

In an hour, this is what came up:

  • My current home address, its square footage, the cost of the property and the taxes I pay on it.

  • My past addresses from the last decade.

  • The full names of my mother, father, sister and aunt.

  • My past phone numbers, including the landline for my parents’ home.

  • Information about a property I previously owned, including its square footage and the mortgage taken out on it.

  • My lack of a criminal record.

While Fyde declined to hack into my accounts using the obtained information and my number, the company warned that there was plenty an attacker could do:

  • A hacker could try to reset my password for an online account by answering security questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “Which of the previous addresses did you live at?”

  • An attacker could use the personal information linked to my phone number to trick a customer service representative for my phone carrier into porting my number onto a new SIM card, thus hijacking my digits — a practice called SIM swapping.

  • A hijacker with control of my phone number could then break into my accounts if I had mechanisms in place to receive a security code in a text message when logging in to an online account.

  • A scammer could also use my hijacked phone number to trick members of my family into sharing their passwords or sending money.

  • A scammer could also target my phone number with phishing texts and robocalls.

  • An intruder could use knowledge of my phone number to call my voice mail inbox and try to crack the personal identification number to listen to my messages.

Marketers could also take advantage:

  • An ad tech agency could add my number to a detailed profile about me, linked to other information about my identity and web-browsing activities.

  • If I signed up for an internet service with my phone number, a brand that bought my digits from an ad firm could upload them into an ad tech tool to correlate the number with my online profile and serve targeted ads.

  • A shady marketing agency could add my number to a database to blast me with spam calls and text-messaged promotions.

When it’s wise to share your number (and when it’s not)

There are some situations when sharing your phone number is reasonable.

When you enter your user name and password to get into your online banking account, the bank may call or text you with a temporary code that you must enter before you can log in. This is a security mechanism known as two-factor verification. In this situation, your phone number is a useful extra factor to prove you are who you say you are.

“A phone number is a better identifier than just your name, but sometimes you want that,” said Simon Thorpe, director of product for Twilio, a communications company that works with phone carriers on combating robocalls.

But which companies should you trust with your phone number? Here’s where things get tricky.

Plenty of tech companies let you use your phone number to protect your accounts from unauthorized access. But even some legitimate brands like Facebook have been scrutinized for improper use of phone numbers.

Last year, a study by the tech blog Gizmodo found that after a Facebook user set up two-step verification with his phone number, advertisers that uploaded his digits into Facebook’s database could match them to his Facebook profile and serve targeted ads. Separately, some people complained this year that the social network allowed them to look up a person’s Facebook profile just by typing a phone number into its search bar.

The company has removed the ability to find people’s profiles by entering their phone number, said Rochelle Nadhiri, a Facebook spokeswoman. She added that when a user set up two-step verification with a phone number, the company would not use the information to serve targeted ads.

Photo: David Goehring

You’re out on the town with your friends when some stranger takes a conversation from casual to creepy, then asks for your phone number. Give them one of these and get away.

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Recently, Twitter user @tricookingqueen went viral with a tweet filled with fake phone numbers to hand out to creeps. A great idea, but unfortunately, most of the numbers in the tweet are now defunct, including the hilarious “I am Groot” hotline. But that got me thinking, there’s got to be some fake numbers out there that still do work. After doing some digging, here’s what I found:

  • (646) 926-6614: The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline, which will say, “Oh hello there. If you’re hearing this message, you’ve made a woman feel unsafe and/or disrespected. Please learn to take no for an answer and respect women’s emotional and physical autonomy. K THANKKS.” Best of all, it’ll send texts as well, and waits an hour to send the text once it’s received one so you have time to bounce.
  • (719) 266-2837: Call and Oates, which lets callers pick a classic Hall and Oates song to play.
  • (605) 475-6968: The Rejection Hotline, which politely explains to the individual that whoever gave them this number is not into them.
  • (888) 447-5594: An easter egg hotline for finishing the first God of War. “By the gods, you’ve done it!”
  • (206) 569-5829: The Loser Line, a Seattle radio station phone number that rejected people can call and leave a message. Those recorded messages will sometimes air during the station’s morning show.
  • (630) 296-7536: Boothworld Industries, a phone number for a creepy augmented reality game created by horror writer Cristopher Bloodworth.

Now, while these fake numbers still work, there are a few things to keep in mind when you use them. For one, most of these numbers only work when someone actually calls them. When you hand out your number, you might want to say something about how you’re old school and that they should call you instead of text, or mention that you hate texting.

Also, these are more ideal for when a creep asks for your number online. If you’re giving out the fake number in person, be sure to use it as an escape plan, not a full proof deterrent. Give out the number and leave, otherwise they might try to call or text you immediately so “you have their number too” and they’ll get wise to your trick. If there’s one thing that’s worse than a creep, it’s an angry creep.

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If you want a real deterrent, consider using the Burner app. You can give out a fake burner number that you can delete whenever you like, and if they try to call or text you immediately, it will actually show up on your phone. They’ll leave you alone, and you can go enjoy the rest of your night knowing you can delete that fake number whenever you want. Have your own creative way to give out fake digits? Let us know in the comments below.

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We often think of our social security numbers as being the crucial key to unlocking our identities, and it certainly is, but there’s a new kind of key that’s becoming more and more valuable to cybercriminals year by year — your cell phone number. When you think about it, the fact that this piece of information has become so important to digging into a person’s identity makes sense. After all, every person with a mobile phone has a unique 10-digit number that they share willingly with friends as well as strangers, depending on the circumstances. It’s a far cry from the days of landline phones, where a single number might be shared by half a dozen people or more.

How many times have you downloaded an app that required a valid mobile number to continue, written it down on forms at the doctor’s office or used your number at a grocery store to take advantage of your frequent shopper rewards? Unlike social security numbers, we freely share cell phone numbers without too much forethought, and it’s coming back to bite many people in the form of identity theft. If you’re wondering how cybercriminals can use your cell phone number to steal your identity and what you can do to protect yourself, keep reading.

Why are cell phone numbers just as revealing as social security numbers?

First used in the 1930’s, social security numbers have evolved to become a cornerstone of American identity, with every citizen being assigned their own unique number which is used by financial institutions, such as banks and the credit bureaus, government agencies, such as the IRS, and more to organize and acquire data about them. However, even though all U.S. citizens have social security numbers, not all of them have a credit history, and there are specific state and federal rules and regulations when it comes to how businesses and institutions can store and use social security numbers. Cell phone numbers, on the other hand, are not regulated. There aren’t any federal mandates that say a company must keep your cell phone number private, which means it’s data which can (and often does) get sold or left in less-than-secure databases.

According to recent data from the U.S. Health Department, 50.8% of American households do not have a landline, and instead solely rely on mobile phones. Not only do a majority of people in the U.S. use cell phones, but they are far more than just phones — increasingly, our smartphones are being optimized to perform all sorts of functions, from controlling the locks and lights in homes to completing financial transactions. Since we carry them wherever we go, geolocation features can track our every movement. Wireless phones are relatively easy to obtain and maintain, which means even someone with no credit history is likely to have one, and an increasing amount of children under 18 also have their own cell phones — which means they have a cell phone number that is tied to them and everything they do online. These numbers, in turn, are connected to far more databases than a social security number, many of which are totally open to thieves and scammers if they know how to look. Thus, alongside the growth in cell phone ownership is an increase in phone number-related identity theft.

How can a cybercriminal use your phone number against you?

Last year, approximately 161,000 U.S. consumers had their mobile accounts taken over, up from 84,000 in 2015. Considering only a small percentage of people report their identity theft to the FTC, it’s likely that any numbers available grossly underestimate the true scope of the problem. Thieves can get a hold of your phone number in multiple different ways, including from data stolen in breaches (like those in recent years at Yahoo and Anthem, for starters), which can be purchased in bulk on the dark web at a low cost. Once they have access to your cell phone number, a cybercriminal can do a number of things with it. Here are some of the most common ways your number can be misused:

1. Gather information about you. Since cell phone numbers are often used as an identifier on social media sites, apps and more, typing your number into a search engine or website can help someone glean plenty of information about you, which can be used in plenty of ways, including social engineering scams. Even scarier, a cell phone number can be the key to figuring out your true identity online — for example, if your cell phone number is connected to your Facebook account, someone could use it to try and obtain your name either through the site’s general search (if you haven’t made that private) or by using the “forgot password” feature at login and entering your number instead of a name or email address.

2. Launch smishing attacks and phone scams against you. If your phone number is in the hands of a criminal, they can use it to their advantage and try to scam you via text messages (known as smishing) or over the phone. These types of scams can be convincing, especially if the scammer has done their homework about you prior to their attempt, and you might be apt to think it’s legitimate if it’s coming directly to your phone. While phone scams might seem as outdated as landlines, they are very much still a problem these days, especially around tax time.

3. Take over your mobile account. People search or reverse-lookup websites allow anyone to find out information about a cell phone number, including the carrier (e.g., Verizon or Sprint), name and city/state associated with the number. They may have to pay to get some of the latter information, but the cost is usually cheap compared to how much they can benefit from it. Using information gleaned about you, they will impersonate you either in-person or over the phone to gain access to your mobile account. This enables them to upgrade for free phones (which they can sell for a profit), add additional lines or take over your number entirely (known as a SIM swap). They might also try to open up a mobile account at a different carrier using your information.

4. Gain access to your financial accounts. Beyond wreaking havoc with your mobile account, access to your phone number enables cybercriminals to take advantage of accounts using text message-based two-factor authentication. If they are in control of the phone number attached to these accounts, then any phone calls or texts sent to verify your identity will be sent to them instead of you. This could very well give them the ability to change the passwords and get access to your accounts, possibly leading to unauthorized charges on your credit cards or a drained bank account.

What can you do to protect yourself?

It might seem overwhelming to think about protecting your cell phone number, especially if you’ve had it for a long time and haven’t put much thought toward being careful in the past. However, there are certainly a few things you can do to protect yourself from falling victim to cell phone number identity theft.

Use a virtual number for non-critical use. One of the best ways to limit the amount of personally identifying data tied to your number is to avoid giving it out to anyone except those closest to you. That’s easier said than done today, but you can get some help by using a virtual number for non-personal matters. You can get a free one through Google Voice. These virtual numbers can accept text messages and phone calls, and you can set them up to forward to your mobile phone so that you won’t miss anything legitimate, but you also can rest easy knowing that your personal number is not accessible to wannabe thieves and scammers.

Don’t give it out unless necessary. You might be conditioned to jot down or hand over your number whenever asked, but it’s important to snap out of that habit and make a new one out of asking whether it’s necessary. You might ask whether you can instead provide a zip code or email address (make sure you’ve got an email address set up for this purpose first). Similar to your social security number, there are likely many cases where your cell phone number is collected as a means of quickly and easily identifying you, but isn’t actually mandatory. It never hurts to ask, and a virtual phone number can help in the instances where you have to provide one. Additionally, don’t publish your cell phone number online, and consider searching for it every so often to ensure it’s not providing a road map to your identity.

Establish a PIN or password with your mobile carrier. Thanks to the FTC’s Red Flags rule, mobile providers are among the businesses in the U.S. which are required to establish and follow guidelines to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft for their customers. As a result, most allow you to set up an additional password or PIN that can be required to make any changes to your account. This secondary safeguard can help in the instance someone does get access to your information and tries to take over your account. Even if they employ a SIM swap, without your password or PIN, they hopefully won’t be able to get too far.

Report suspicious activity immediately. If your phone suddenly becomes disconnected and restarting it doesn’t change anything, or you notice something fishy with your bill, make sure you contact your mobile carrier immediately. The sooner you can catch a scammer in action, the quicker you can get the situation under control and prevent them from causing more damage. If you do find yourself a victim of cell phone number-related identity theft, make sure to report it. Additionally, be on alert for suspicious phone calls or messages pretending to be from your carrier — if your two-factor authentication is triggered and you haven’t attempted to sign in, that’s a sign someone may be trying to break into your account, and you should contact your carrier (and the corresponding service that sent the two-factor authentication code) at once.

The world has changed a lot since mobile phones were first introduced, both for better and for worse, but with a few adjustments to how you conduct yourself, you can do your best to dodge the scammers trying to take advantage of this technology. Learn more about protecting yourself and your information by following our identity theft protection blog.

Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever

Matthew Kane

It could be that I’m in that group of people that prefers a flat-out rejection to being “let down easy,” but one of the most confusing (and frankly, annoying) things about dating for me is asking a girl out, her accepting, exchanging numbers, and then said date never happens.

I’ve always wondered why some women do this. (Yes, I know the majority of the reason is because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or be put in the position of just telling a guy, “No, thank you.”) But I wanted more insight as to why women do this, so I asked:

Morgan, 30: “MOST of the time I give my number out to somebody, it’s because I’m really flattered. But then I get bored or realize I’m not actually interested.”

Trisha, 28: “I can change my mind! Just because I give you my number one night, doesn’t mean I’m obligated to text you.”

Samantha, 27: “I feel bad. They were nice, and I’m a terrible liar.”

Sophia, 24: “Sometimes I’m intoxicated enough to think there’s a chance of some type of friendship happening. Sobriety usually brings about the reality of the situation. Also, I hate giving out a fake number. I’m not a spiteful person and I’d hate to accidentally involve someone else.”

Amanda, 22: “I usually don’t do this, but if a guy were pushy, I’d give him my number to please him if he risked my personal safety.”

Kylie, 26: “A lot of times, if you give someone your number they’ll instantly call you. So if you’ve given a fake number, it causes more problems than just staying silent after the fact. And even nice guys can — and have and will — turn into total jerks after being told, ‘No.’ So oftentimes it’s way easier to just go radio silent than deal with a whiny drunk guy who can’t deal with rejection.”

Colleen, 27: “Usually I won’t give someone my number unless there’s a specific reason like if we have mutual friends or common interests and it might be useful to have them as a contact. Then, somehow, I make it clear whether I’m willing to cross over that ‘formality’ or not and actually start something more-than-platonic. Usually if a guy just says, ‘Can I get your number?’ I’m more likely to say no.”

Nancy, 31: “Back when I was in the dating world, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I was passive and I didn’t want to appear like a ‘frigid bitch,’ etc. I figured it was easier to just hand out the number when being confronted and slink off to the sidelines after everything was said and done.”

Melissa, 26: “If it’s a guy I’m really, really not into because I can’t think of a fake number, I just give my real one. But realistically, when a guy asks, I feel like I’m super rude if I say no. #PersonalProblem”

Theresa, 21: “I see no reason why I should give a fake number. If I don’t want your call, I just politely say, ‘No.’”

Here’s A Guy’s Take:

Every woman has the right to reject you, and you should respect that. I’m a nice guy, but I’m also realistic to the fact that just because you’re nice to her, you are in no way entitled to her number or, well, anything.

I do believe that if a guy has the courage to ask you out, you do at least owe him the courtesy of an honest answer. Maybe that ideological of me, but I also don’t think it’s an unreasonable request or expectation.

If you know from the jump that you don’t want anything with this guy, you should turn him down then and there. He’s going into it knowing there’s a shot at rejection. As long as he’s respectful in his approach, there’s no reason why you can’t politely curve his advance. It’s one thing to legitimately change your mind, as Trisha said, but I think that intentionally sending mixed signals and false information is just wrong. That’s just my opinion.

If he’s too pushy, do whatever you need to do to defuse the situation immediately. If you feel that your safety is in danger, leave if you can or were thinking about heading out soon. If you planned to stay, find security or get someone in charge’s attention and address the situation. No one should ever feel that they’re health is in danger when they go out, especially if you’re a girl who just happens to not be interested in some guy.

It sucks that there are guys out there who don’t take, ‘No,’ for an answer or even make a woman feel uncomfortable, physically, but the reality is that they’re out there. Maybe it’s their actions that cause some women to treat all guys as if they were that way. I just think that there’s always a way to turn a guy down without crushing his soul or getting his hopes for nothing, intentionally.