What is the difference between Virtual and Physical numbers?

We buy virtual numbers through an SMS API provider. Physical numbers are real mobile phone numbers handled by our physical number partner. Our API provider blocks the verification codes for various services, and so virtual numbers can not receive these. With physical numbers there is no message filtering, but the numbers are more expensive.

We do not recycle numbers for either virtual or physical numbers.

How does the voicemail work?

When somebody calls your SMS Privacy number they will be asked to leave a message. Everything they say after that is recorded, and after they hang up you'll be able to listen to their message through the SMS Privacy website. Voicemails have a maximum length of 5 minutes. You'll be informed before you buy whether the number you are buying supports voicemail or not.

Does SMS Privacy work for everything?

Virtual numbers: no. Our SMS provider blocks the SMS messages involved for signing up to Google, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, LocalBitcoins, and possibly more. They do not block voice calls so it is possible to sign up for Google and Telegram by using a voicemail-capable number.

Physical numbers: yes, should do! We're not aware of any message filtering on the physical numbers.

Do you recycle numbers?

No. You can't use SMS Privacy to buy a number that any SMS Privacy user has used in the past.

What countries can I buy a phone number in?

Virtual numbers: Australia, Canada, Spain, France, Great Britain, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United States, South Africa.

Physical numbers: Great Britain only.

What happens if SMS Privacy gets a lawful search warrant?

We'll comply. We don't have any of your personal information in the first place so you should still be safe.

What happens if someone traces my Bitcoin payment back to me?

They'll find out that you are an SMS Privacy user. It's your responsibility to make sure you make the payment anonymously if you want to pay anonymously. This is only likely to be important if your adversary is state-sponsored.

What information do you store?

The only information we need from you is a username and password. You may optionally configure an email address in your profile, but these are not required when you signup, and you can change them at any time.

We also have records of the bitcoin you have deposited, the phone numbers you have bought and the messages you have sent and received, because it is not possible to run the service without these.

We also have normal web server logs.

We don't run Google Analytics, or use any other JavaScript, CSS, or image content hosted by third parties.

What do you do with my email address?

Nothing. It's only checked in the event that you forget your password. In particular, we will never use it for sending you any emails other then to help you reset your password, and we will never give or sell it to any third parties.

What if SMS Privacy gets compromised?

If you decide to fill in the email address field (which we recommend you do), we recommend you use an address that is not linked to your real-world identity so that you can retain your privacy in the event that SMS Privacy is compromised.

What if I forget my username or password?

You may optionally configure an email address in your profile. If you've done this, you can use the email address to receive a password reset email. If you haven't done this we will have no way to verify your identity so you will not be able to recover the account if you forget the username or password.

What if SMS Privacy shuts down?

If the service shuts down you will lose access to the phone numbers you bought with us. We will make every effort to give plenty of notice before shutting down. In the event that you have a remaining balance with the service we will make every reasonable effort to return the balance to you. If you have configured an email address in your profile we will send you an email asking where you want it deposited. If not, we will give you a chance to configure a Bitcoin address in your profile.

What are the rules?

Use it for good, not for evil. Don't harm anyone. Try not to do anything that is likely to result in police coming round to my house.

Can I use SMS Privacy over Tor?

Yes, you may access SMS Privacy over Tor. We recommend using the hidden service at smspriv6fynj23u6.onion when browsing via Tor, so as to protect yourself from malicious exit nodes.

Do you read my messages?

No, but it should be clear that we wouldn't be able to operate the service without having the technical ability to read the messages. And other parties anywhere on the SMS route can also read your messages. So you shouldn't send anything you don't want third parties to read, although we promise not to read any of it.

How do I know you won't sell/leak my personal information, even if you get hacked?

The only way to know for certain is to avoid giving us any personal information in the first place. We make it as easy as possible for you to do that, by not requiring any personal information in your profile, and by allowing you to access the site through Tor.

The general position is: "we don't leak anything, but you needn't trust us: you can make sure of it by not giving us anything to leak".

How do I recover my account if I forgot my password?

Please email jes@smsprivacy.org with your username or email address and we'll send a password reset link to the email address in your profile. If you did not configure an email address in your profile it is not possible to recover your account.

I want to write about SMS Privacy. Can I interview you?

Yes. Please get in touch: jes@smsprivacy.org. I'll be happy to answer all of your questions.


SMS Privacy is a project by James Stanley.
Available as a Tor hidden service at smspriv6fynj23u6.onion.
Please send bug reports, feature requests, comments, concerns, etc. to jes@smsprivacy.org.
As featured on Indie Hackers.