How To Use Telegram Without a Phone Number
Telegram is an encrypted messaging platform with millions of active users. Using Telegram, users can send messages, video streams, audio files, and other content anonymously around the world.
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, as 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 circumvent account verification in Telegram. The phone number requirement is designed to prevent bots and automated account creation.
When you register for a Telegram account, you have to give a number and either receive a voice call at that number or receive an SMS text message at that number. The call or the text will contain a verification code, which you will then use to validate your Telegram account.
Once that call or text has been received, however, you do not need further access to the number you provided. So in reality, you don’t need your phone number to use Telegram, you just need a phone number for a minute or two.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get a phone number for a minute or two, or for even longer. I’ll review several options to get a temporary number, quickly and for free.
Google Voice is the web-based calling app from Google that provides users with an entirely new phone number that can be used for voice calls as well as SMS 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 who you are, 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.
Burner is a very useful app that works as a call forwarder. 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.
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 and adding that to your Telegram account on your phone.
Avoiding Other Identification Risks
The reality is that avoiding your phone number isn’t the only potential way to associate you with 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 phony number and access your conversations or even delete your account.