How to Stop Your Phone from Leaking Private Information to Everyone You Call

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Work calls from smartphones are a way of life. However, some apps may be sharing more information than you expect.

Some phones and tablets auto-populate new contacts with Google Plus profile information based on the phone number linked to your Google services—even if you haven’t given Google your name. That means any call to an Android phone will automatically show the caller your Google Plus information via “smart caller ID,” including other phone numbers and any other information you may have added.

New apps and Google syncing make extracting personal information from a phone number cheap and effortless. But it’s not always welcome.

Whether you’re making a call to a client or ordering pizza, you might not want to share all of your personal information. One of the easiest ways to address this is just blocking caller ID. Blocking caller ID will prevent your name and phone number from being displayed on the receiver’s screen when you make a call. Most mobile phones provide the option to turn caller ID on and off, but some service providers charge may charge a fee to do this, while some do not even allow it. Apps like Google Voice or Skype can also be used to maintain the anonymity of your personal cell phone number, but present a different set of security considerations.

If you don’t want Google to show your name and profile photo as your caller ID, try these simple steps before you take more drastic measures.

Google’s phone page page makes accessing phone numbers connected to your accounts easy to find. Just uncheck the boxes next to help people who have your number connect with you across Google services and also help them find your name, photo, and other information that you’ve made visible on Google.

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This is not the end-all be-all. As the disclaimer at the top of Google’s phone page spells out, removing your number from other Google services may require going to each service individually. Thankfully, Google has a page to see all the apps connected to your account

Google Plus does not let you hide everything. You must show your full name, brief description, gender, and a profile photo. However, you can leave these fields blank and your Google Plus account will still work for most connected services. You can check what information Google has stored and how much you share through this Google Plus support page. While you’re at it, check to see who can send you email through Google Plus. Google makes it unnervingly easy for random strangers to contact you using the Send Email button on your profile.

These simple steps can help ensure that your private personal information stays personal and private.

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