Stop using a personal cell phone number as a business line.
Top Six Reasons To Avoid Using a Personal Cell Phone Number As a Business Line
The article covers:
- Why entrepreneurs still use their mobile numbers for business;
- what dangers using personal numbers for business entails;
- how a virtual phone number negates communication risks.
Six reasons to stop using your personal mobile line for business and opt for a virtual phone number
Know your target audience, be accessible to customers, keep in touch with your partners ― these axiomatic slogans are known to every business owner who strives to achieve steady growth. Adequate communication is essential for any company and telephony is still the most frequently-used channel in the majority of industries. Although getting a virtual phone number is a piece of cake, start-uppers and small business owners often rely on their personal CallerIDs to carry out business affairs. However, such practice is inefficient and unprofessional at the very least ― in some cases it is even dangerous. From this post you’ll learn why conducting business via a private mobile number is a faulty strategy and find out about safe alternatives.
Start-uppers might consider using personal numbers for business interaction a feasible option. Of course, it is rather affordable and convenient, but most people prefer it out of habit. Switching to something new seems too much a fuss. Why trouble yourself if an ordinary mobile works just fine? Keeping a personal number seems natural and doesn’t require any changes to the existing communication behavior. But “personal” and “business” are very different fields, which require mutually exclusive approaches.
To facilitate awareness of the target audience, any entrepreneur is eager to spread his contacts as widely as possible: they put it on business cards, publicly accessible social media profiles, online and offline marketing campaigns, etc. However, exposure is a double-edged sword ― while it does help attract potential customers, it also creates a massive number of security risks and, in the end, affects revenues.
Top problems of using a private number as a business line and feasible solutions to them
You make yourself vulnerable to all types of cyber-attacks. Contact data combined with certain personal information (like full name, address, photos) comprises your online identity which is in great demand among hackers, scammers, pranksters and frauds of all sorts. Such data is actively sold and bought at the digital black market, and giving it away to the wide audience severely compromises your security.
For example, a recently fixed bug exposed up to 95% of Android users to malware. A hacker could send a malicious multimedia message “in order to steal (your device’s) data and photos or to hijack its microphone and camera, among other nefarious actions,” according to Fortune Magazine. Worst of all, no actions were required from the user ― no links to visit, no SMS to send. A virus code launched itself automatically upon the message arrival; then it erased the original MMS. iPhones could also be affected until Apple eliminated a message cache bug on their devices. Of course, recent security updates patched this vulnerability, but who knows how many other bugs remain to be exploited?
Other, more traditional threats are not to be ignored either. Smartphones are actively used for communication related to credit card usage (notification messages, online purchase approval, two-factor security). As such, your mobile number alongside with certain background information gives fraudsters a way to steal cardholder’s private data: CVV2/CVC2 and pin codes. Criminals may pose as bank employees and pry out the codes via fake calls, SMS or emails. The fact that logins/passwords for various accounts (Facebook, Google, etc.) are often cached by your phone only adds up to the problem.
Solution: Get separate devices for business and private calls. And if carrying/charging/maintaining two phones instead of one seems inconvenient, subscribe to a virtual phone number backed by a call-processing system. It will allow to preserve safety of personal data without affecting mobility and convenience. Any calls to your business number will be forwarded to chosen devices according to your rules, while business SMS and social media messages can be accessed through a mobile application or a web interface. A potential cybercriminal cannot target you directly (only business number is publicly available). Therefore, any threat will be directed at the servers of your virtual service provider and providers have their effective means to counteract such attacks.
You can’t avoid robocalls. While happy owners of virtual phone numbers and PBX systems simply don’t notice the problem, unfortunate users of personal numbers keep fumbling with blacklists.
According to Consumer Reports, 3 out of 10 phone calls in the U.S. are pre-recorded marketing messages. Each month FTC and FCC receive more than 150,000 complaints attributed to robocalls. Live marketing calls are a point of lesser concern, but they also do exist. Aside from affecting the quality of life, robocalls can serve as a tool for telemarketing frauds, total losses from which in the U.S. are estimated at $350 million per year. Calls can come from any place of the world and spoofing technology makes it possible to fake almost any CallerID. Once the call is answered and a key is pressed (e.g., press 2 to remove this number from the call list), your line is marked as “hot” and can be ― and will be ― exploited later. For small business owners, the impact of spam calls can severely affect the revenues. Persistent robo-calling renders your line busy for customers and business partners, thus nullifying your accessibility.
Although the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has designed a National Do Not Call Registry to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls and more than 220 million Americans have used this option, this service doesn’t always work as intended.
“Even though it’s typically illegal for robocallers to contact a consumer who hasn’t given his or her express consent to receive such calls, many robocallers simply ignore the list, betting that the FCC and FTC are too busy to come after them,” Consumer Reports explains. What’s more, the Registry doesn’t restrict calls from political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors.
If your number has been compromised, there might be no choice other than change it. While this method is the simplest and the most effective one, entrepreneurs are naturally reluctant to do it ― the number is already put on promo materials.
Solution: Deploy an automated attendant. Instead of ringing your phone, a robocall will reach a voice menu and get stuck until its timeout ends. Some providers utilize more sophisticated anti-spam algorithms. Mobile carriers offer automated greeting and auto-attendant functionality, although these options are often overpriced and lack flexibility. A much better strategy is to subscribe to a cloud phone system: their unrivalled capability for customization allows to tailor all the parameters specifically to your business. What’s more, it’s very easy to activate several additional inbound lines for your virtual phone number: when one line is blocked with a robocall, others are still available for customers.
You are effectively bound to your number. A mobile number is currently an essential part of your identity. Even those who don’t partake in business feel tied-up when it comes to change their mobile number. While persistent spam calls, necessity to move to another region or switch to another mobile carrier may force people to change their number, most of them try to retain it. However, porting a CallerID highly depends on a service provider and isn’t always possible. But why retain?
Many services use mobile numbers during the registration process, thus it may be impossible to change your login/password without having direct access to the number. Other services rely on mobile numbers to convey various notifications through SMS or push messages. And, finally, mobile numbers are used for two-factor authentication by online banking and digital currency services. Therefore, an average modern person has numerous online/offline services associated with his personal CallerID. Changing it would require updating registration information, which may become a tedious, time-consuming task.
The situation grows much worse for business owners. Once your number is widely distributed through marketing efforts, changing it renders previous campaigns useless. The money is wasted, while printed materials with the old number end up in the trash. What’s even more important, inability to access your office via an obsolete number affects your reputation among both current and potential customers. Just imagine how annoying it would be for them to actively search for your relevant contact data. Probably, they would simply migrate to a competing firm.
Solution: Again, the best way to prevent this problem would be to use different numbers for business and private affairs. Opting for a virtual business number will save a lot of trouble in case you‘re forced to switch mobile carriers/numbers. At least, the damage will be limited to personal affairs: your virtual phone number remains with you after purchase, so you’ll just need to reconfigure call forwarding. And if you wish to migrate to another virtual phone service provider, porting an existing number is a common practice.
Your communication capabilities are severely limited. Sometimes an aspiring entrepreneur thinks: “A mobile number will do for now. I’ll come up with something more professional later, if the budget allows.” This line of thinking is entirely wrong. When time comes to increase call-processing capability ― to add more lines, deploy an auto-attendant, power up call forwarding ― a short-sighted entrepreneur may find out that his/her mobile carrier can’t offer the desired function. And it may be too late to migrate to a professional solution. If a business is on the rise, the worst thing an owner may do is change contact data ― loss of customers is imminent.
Solution: Cloud phone services are praised for flexibility and scalability. You can start with the cheapest rating plan with basic features and upgrade/downgrade whenever you feel like it. Activate or deactivate features, phone lines, users, talk minutes… Every parameter is subject to fine tuning. With an advanced virtual phone system you are paying only for what you really need.
It’s impossible to control employee-customer interaction. In case your employees rely on personal phone numbers for dealing with customers, you willingly give up control over a certain part of your business. To plan for the future, it’s important to keep track of all business processes within your company: logistics, sales, customer service. When clients interact with your company through employees’ personal numbers, you don’t know how often and when your employees speak to your customers, how they handle conversations and which questions they fail to answer.
Besides, nothing will stop your salesperson from selling goods/services at a higher price than you intended and pocketing the difference. Alternatively, an employee can make deals directly, without your consent, thus becoming a competitor. They can even act to your competitors’ advantage by revealing critical data… The abuse list goes on and such possibilities are not for conspiracy theorists, they are important concerns for small business owners.
Solution: Any decent virtual phone system solves this problem with ease. All your company’s business interactions are conducted within a consistent communication environment, which gives you full awareness of what’s going on. You can record calls for various purposes, monitor detailed call statistics per employee, ask customers to send testimonials/complaints to voicemail and much more. Notably, with an ability to add extensions to your virtual phone number, you can still let your customers reach particular employees directly.
It compromises privacy and disrupts work-life balance. “Mental detachment is crucial for a successful vacation,” The Wall Street Journal notes. “Turn off the phone, or limit email to a certain time each day.” Being too accessible to your clients is a real thing. It’s perfectly fine to be able to answer calls promptly during your business hours ― and a mobile phone is indeed a handy tool. However, customers can reach you anytime ― when you’re having lunch, walking with your dog or snoring in your bed. The phone rings, you fail to answer, or even worse —hang up. You call back in a couple of minutes, but the caller either hangs up on you or says that your services are no longer needed.
And if you do answer, there is a good chance that you might misinterpret something, miss a valuable piece of information or say something out-of-place. A caller may overhear something annoying (crying children, road noise, music) and will have troubles with understanding what you want to convey. Needless to say, it all sounds grossly unprofessional.
Solution: One of the core ideas behind a virtual business number is preserving privacy without compromising accessibility. This idea is mainly embodied through intelligent call routing. You can easily configure the system to forward calls depending on time, day of the week or a caller’s number. Thus, you can tune it to forward calls to your cellphone from 9:00 to 18:00 and direct calls to voicemail after hours. Also you can include especially valued partners into a VIP list and set separate rules for them (e.g. always forward their calls to your mobile).
In a nutshell
Using private numbers for business is inconvenient, inefficient and even dangerous. There are three common ways to dispense with this practice: carry two separate mobile phones; try your mobile carrier’s “business” options; or subscribe to a cloud phone system. While each of them has its pluses and minuses, a virtual phone system is the most balanced solution in terms of affordability, convenience and security. It will effectively protect your personal data from scammers, preserve your work-life balance and improve accessibility. What’s more, it will make your company sound professional to your potential customers.
MightyCall has been providing virtual phone services for small/medium business owners for decades. Currently, it is one of the most flexible, powerful and easy-to-use call-processing solutions on the market. With its affordable packages and a wide range of advanced features, MightyCall is designed to make your business communication efficient, professional and transparent.