Account Registration phone verification internals

Phone verification is becoming wide spread for free account sign ups on sites like Yahoo, Gmail, Craig’s list, Facebook etc.   I hate giving out my real info just to test something with a burner account.   In the past, the solution was as simple as Googling “receive free sms” and going to one of dozen’s sites that will receive the verification code.   I knew that it was too easy to last.  Sure enough, the numbers from those sites are now black listed.

I really didn’t want to give out my primary cell phone to Yahoo.  So I reached went for the next best thing.  My VoIP trunk provider has the capability to receive SMS on a VoIP number and forward it to my primary phone, or even as an email.   I entered that in, and to my surprise yahoo still rejected it.   That got me thinking.  How can they be blacklisting my own private number?  No one else registered with it before.

How it works:

With the numbers being ported all over the place, how can they know whether a particular number is a VoIP number?  The short answer is that they don’t know.   They take a guess based on the information that’s publicly available (or available for small fee) through sources such as these:

Local calling guide is actually quite accurate (and free).  Where it messes up, is as soon as a number is ported.   It will only show the name of the telco that originally registered the number, all subsequent ports are ignored.   When I looked up my numbers that failed to verify, sure enough they all came back as belonging to a VoIP company.  Same thing when I tried to look up many “receive free sms” service numbers.   They all showed up as VoIP.

So now what?  I still don’t want to give Yahoo my cell phone

… There isn’t a fool proof way, but some of these may work

  • Port a “real” number to VoIP.  It costs me about $12/first year to have a secondary VoIP number – which of course doesn’t work that great now days.  Porting a real number to VoIP will work, but it’s little bit more time and money.   I figure about $50/first year (get a sim, port it, cancel original service, keep it running as VoIP).   Not that bad, but a little too much trouble for what I’m using it for.
  • Sign up with a service that provides verification codes for burner phone numbers.   They do the above steps for you in mass scale as a service.   I haven’t tried it though.  If they listed their numbers in advance I could look them up to see if they show up as VoIP.  For this to work they must have a proper setup using “real” phone numbers.   Also it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t get black listed in a hurry.   Maybe there is one that works, but chances are if it works, now it won’t work several months later.
  • Give up for now (until something better comes along)… this is kind of what I ended up doing.  I still didn’t give them a real number; I ended up reviving one of my old yahoo accounts.  I used it instead.