Create disposable phone numbers with the Burner app
In the popular HBO TV series The Wire, drug dealers would get pre-paid cell phones to make deals on and then get rid of the phones so quickly that the feds couldn’t get a wire tap in place fast enough to track/listen to their calls. These temporary phones were called Burners. Now, a new app called Burner is available which enables iPhone users to create temporary phone numbers that can be disposed of after a single use, or multiple uses.
Burner is an app and service that you can get a single use disposable phone number for whatever use you might need it for. Then when you are done, you can delete the number. Other options would be to keep the number for a short period of time, to use it multiple times with the eventual intent to get rid of it as well. The app itself costs $1.99 in iTunes (only available for iPhone currently), and then you can buy additional credits which can be applied to future call minutes and temporary numbers. You can make phone calls or send text messages with the app.
Although the name of the app comes from a nefarious origin, it actually has a bunch of legitimate reasons to use this app and service which would be appealing to many then just drug dealers. The Burner support site lists off some of the reasons one may want a number to burn:
For dating, when you want to give out a number to someone you’ve recently met, but don’t know very much about yet
For transactions, such as on eBay or Craigslist, when you want to communicate with people you don’t want to stay in touch with long term
For job searches, when you want to know when an incoming call is from a potential employer — or even use a local area code when applying for an out-of-state job
For tracking things, for example when you advertise a phone number in two different places and want to track the source
For “sandboxing” things — if you run a small business from your personal cell phone, sometimes you want to turn it off
For dealing with salespeople and other folks who you want to be able to reach you but not bother you later
With all the possibilities it’s actually a pretty cool service that I think people can enjoy and have fun with. And if you are a drug dealer, I don’t know the technicalities of it but something tells me if the feds want to track down that number, they will be able to. Although Burner doesn’t directly address the issue, a search for user privacy options indicates that the user-to-user interaction is anonymous, but Burner may keep for a period of time on their server a log of burned numbers, which will probably be tied to your unique iPhone IMEI serial number.