â€œWhy would I give out my cell?â€ said Ms. McClain, 23. â€œI donâ€™t need a guy I met at a bar one night calling me every day for the next two weeks begging me to go out. I want to filter out the people I donâ€™t need to have contact with.â€
Why indeed?Â Cellular phones are the last bastion of privacy that most of us have.Â But do most of us really want a disposable number, as the NY Times suggests, or just the ability to zap nuisance callers automagically to the bit bucket.Â Most of us already have too many identities in our lives, and are looking for a little simplicity. Services like our own iotum, and to a lesser degree personal assistants like Grand Central and Webley / Communikate provide this service now.
A threat, however, is an increasing and dangerousÂ trend toÂ co-mingle your identity and your telephone number.Â My recent experience trying to cancel Sunrocket is a perfect example.Â Sunrocket CSR’s refused to cancel my account via email, rationalizing that email is insecure while the phone, apparently, is not.Â The point that anyone can call claiming to be me, and that they have no way to verify that the caller is, in fact, me was completely lost on them.
It’s a dangerous trend.Â Just as social security numbers are now the favorite means for identity thieves to impersonate you, phone numbers may be come the next.Â What’s needed isÂ a secure way to transmit credentials with the phone number.Â This simple step would reduce credit card fraud, protect consumer privacy, and provide the peace of mind of knowing that the person on the other of the telephone is who they say they are… before making payment.
UPDATE:Â Michael Urlocker has some nice additional insights, and gives a nod to iotum.Â Thanks Michael!