What is a Burner Phone?

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Burner Phone in the Trash

If you keep up with us on our blog, you already know that we hear some funny things about pay as you go devices. Recently, we’ve noticed there’s some confusion regarding prepaid and burner phones. In fact, there’s so much confusion that burner phones are sometimes defined as just another term for a prepaid device.

So, are they the same?

No!

Don’t worry… we’re here to set the record straight.

What is a burner phone?

Technically, a burner phone is a prepaid device. However, burners are different from prepaid phones in that they are used specifically for one purpose and then disposed. We certainly hope you don’t get rid of your phone after a few weeks of using it!

Burner phones came to fame with the television show “The Wire,” when drug dealers used the phones to communicate. However, these devices have been criminals’ go-to long before HBO made them famous.

Since prepaid phones can be bought with cash (and without a contract), they’re much harder to track. So it’s easy for people to use them for certain (illegal) activities and then simply dump the phone—and more importantly, the phone number—when it’s considered “burned,” or too risky to use. Then, these users simply buy another pay as you go device.

You can see how these devices would be incredibly appealing to criminals. But burners have other uses too…

Are burners just for crime?

While burner phones became notorious for criminal use, there are actually several practical reasons to use a number for a limited amount of time instead of using your permanent phone number.

Say you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist or another classifieds site. It might be safer to use a disposable number that you can terminate after the transaction instead of your personal number. This can save you from unwanted texts and calls from strangers, especially if you choose another buyer/seller.

A disposable number is also handy for dating. Sometimes, you’re just not quite sure things are going to work out. If you’re worried about a prospect getting too attached after you’ve politely declined, a temporary number can you save you the hassle and headache of blocking someone from your phone and worrying if they have your number memorized.

Are you seeing a theme here? All in all, burners are great for privacy. Use them for online purchases and subscriptions to avoid telemarketers and unwanted text ads. Or, use one for a business phone. This way, your coworkers have a specific number to reach you, while friends and family have another. Burners can also be useful for keeping journalists and hackers from leaking details of your private events… like your wedding. Because if you’re as famous as George Clooney, you worry about things like that.

So, you want a burner phone?

Now that you know how burner phones are used, how do you go about getting one?

Well, you really have three options.

First, you can stick to the traditional method for using a burner phone. That means purchasing a separate, prepaid cell phone that you use for a specific purpose and then dispose of once you no longer need it. But as you can imagine, in the world of smartphones, buying a prepaid device just to throw it away doesn’t make much sense financially. Is there a way to keep your number private without purchasing a whole new device?

Absolutely! You can block your number. To do this, simply dial *67 before dialing the 10-digit phone number you wish to call. When you make a call this way, your number will show up as Unknown, Restricted, or Blocked. This is a great way to keep your number hidden, but keep in mind your call cannot be returned. This means the blocking method doesn’t work very well for business purposes when a conversation may need to take place.

So if buying and tossing a new device isn’t financially sound and blocking your number is limiting, how else can you use a separate, private number? Don’t worry—there is a happy medium!

Enter Burner, the app that’s changed the burner phone game. Burner allows you to create multiple numbers on your phone for work, online shopping, dating, and any other reason you may want to keep your personal number private. You can delete a number at any time, and can create as many numbers as you please. Sound convenient? Most users think so, despite wanting minor updates and changes. Check out the reviews on iTunes and Google Play to see what people have to say!

Burner speaks to the practical uses for a burner phone without actually having to buy and throw away a physical, prepaid device. Could it get any better? Well, other than putting the Burner app on your prepaid device, of course.

As you can see, burners have come a long way since their rise to fame after “The Wire.” So, what do you think? Would you use a burner to keep your personal number separate? Let us know on Facebook!

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