How To Use Telegram Without a Phone Number
While the app is typically known for its privacy features, there is one rather glaring security hole in Telegram — when you register for an account with the service, you have to provide your phone number in order to verify your account. You can’t just give it a fake number, either, because you have to receive a message on that number in order to verify your account and start using the service.
It is true that Telegram doesn’t use that number for anything after you register, but for privacy-minded users seeking to preserve their anonymity, having to provide a phone number at all is a bad start.
Fortunately, it is simple to bypass this requirement. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of getting a Telegram account without having to give the service your actual phone number.
Can You Use Telegram Without a Phone Number?
Unfortunately, you cannot make a Telegram account without providing a phone number. This requirement is designed to prevent bots and automated account creation.
After giving the app your phone number, you’ll either receive a voice call or an SMS text message with a verification code which you will use to verify your Telegram account.
Once that call or text has been received, however, you do not need further access to the number you provided. So while you do need a phone number, you don’t need your phone number to use Telegram.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get a phone number for a minute or two, or for even longer. Here are several options to get a temporary number, quickly and for free.
Google Voice is a web-based telephone service from Google that provides users with a new phone number that can be used for voice calls and messaging.
The only downside to using a Google Voice number is that it is associated with your Google account. If your main concern is just preventing Telegram from knowing your phone number, then that won’t matter, but if you’re after ultimate privacy, this may not be the option for you.
Assuming Google Voice works for your security needs, here’s how to use Google Voice to get a Telegram account set up.
- Go to Google and set up a new account if necessary.
- Navigate to Google Voice and register or select a phone number.
- Register that number with Telegram and wait for the confirmation code to be delivered.
- Retrieve the code from your Google Voice window and type it into Telegram.
- Confirm your account and begin using it.
You can create a Google Account without a phone number too. Although the email service asks for it, there are some workarounds and we have the article on how to do that here.
Burner is a very useful call forwarding app. You rent a temporary phone number and give it out to whoever you want. The call is received by the Burner server and forwarded from them to your real number. The caller has no idea of your real number and Burner doesn’t share it with anyone.
There are two types of accounts: a short-term burner number ideal for listing items on Craigslist or for verifying Telegram, and a long-term subscription number that you keep for however long you like. The short-term numbers are free, while the long-term numbers have a modest cost. For users who want to make sure their identity isn’t tied to their Telegram account, Burner is a great option.
FreePhoneNum.com is a completely free platform that offers burner phone numbers. The service offers a very temporary number for verification or any other purpose.
I have used this service to verify membership to a website and it works. Some of the numbers provided fail but if you persevere and keep trying, one should work.
Receive SMS is another free service I have used to verify membership without giving out my own number. It can work with Telegram but has the same issue that FreePhoneNum.com has in that not all numbers work all the time.
It may take a little trial and error to find one that works. Then it’s just a case of watching incoming messages for the verification code and adding that to your Telegram account on your phone.
More Privacy Tips
The reality is your phone number isn’t the only thing that ties you to your Telegram account.
Another potential weakness in your anonymity is the fact that your device’s unique MAC address is also stored in at least a couple of places along the network backbone. In theory, a sufficiently motivated government or law enforcement agency will have the resources to defeat your attempt at ultimate anonymity. As it happens, there are programs to change your MAC address, as well as the ever-popular VNC offerings.
Lastly, you should be sure to enable two-factor authentication on your Telegram account after creating your account with a burner number.
Without this extra security measure, someone can log into your Telegram account with the spoofed number and access your conversations or even delete your account. Of course, this will mean you’ll probably need to keep that number active to sign in to your account.
Be Sure to Delete Your Account
As one of our commenters pointed out, if you use a burner phone number it will eventually get recycled back into the pool of eligible numbers where another person can use it. Assuming they also use Telegram they may gain access to your messages and account long after you’ve moved on.
If you decide you no longer wish to use that particular Telegram account be sure to delete it completely. That way, the next person who has that number can start their own Telegram account fresh and never have access to yours.
Can I use someone else’s phone number?
You certainly can. Just be mindful that they may not be able to create a Telegram account and it may be difficult to log in with 2FA turned on.
Can I use a landline phone?
Telegram requires users to verify via text. If you have the phone call verification option this will work, but if not, you need a cell phone.
Can I use Telegram for International calling?
If you are using Telegram to call other people overseas you can use Telegram as an internet program avoiding any international charges from your cell phone carrier. If you’re traveling internationally you can use this feature on wifi only to avoid charges. However, if you use mobile data you will be hit with charges so be careful.