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Set Up a Temporary Phone Number in 3 Minutes with Twilio

rubbish bin

If you’ve ever sold anything on Craigslist, requested a quote on the internet, or watched The Wire, then you may have found yourself wishing for a “burner” phone. In this post we’ll use TwiML Bins to create a temporary phone number that forwards phone calls to your cellphone. This will take less than three minutes, even if you’ve never written a line of code before!

Sign up for a free Twilio account if you don’t already have one. Then go to Developer Tools in your console and click on TwiML Bins. TwiML is a simple set of instructions used to program your Twilio number. TwiML Bins let you host static TwiML without setting up a server of your own.

Create a TwiML Bin. Name it “Forward to my cellphone.” Then copy this code to your cellphone number when a call comes in.

<Response>
  <Dial>312XXXXXXX</Dial>
</Response>

call-forwarding-twiml

 

Buy a phone number

Congrats! You just wrote some TwiML! Now you just need to buy a programmable phone number:

  • Go to your Phone Numbers Dashboard.
  • Click Buy a Number.
  • Search for a number that suits you.
  • Click Buy
  • Confirm your purchase, then click Setup Number.

All that’s left is to tell Twilio where to find instructions on what to do when someone calls this temporary phone number. Under Messaging, look for the line that says “A message comes in.” Change the first box to “TwiML” and the second to “Forward to my cellphone,” then save your configuration.

buy-and-setup-temporary-number

That’s it! Borrow a friend’s cellphone and call your Twilio number. A few seconds later, your cell phone should light up. You now have a temporary phone number you can give out to the Internet without concern.

Next Steps

Call forwarding and disposable numbers are just the beginning of what you can do with TwiML Bins and programmable phone numbers. For more ideas check out:

Also, if you’re looking for a more robust temporary phone functionality, check out Burner App which uses Twilio to give you a temporary phone number that can send and receive text messages and place and receive phone calls.

If you have any questions or build anything sweet, I’d love to hear about it. You can find me at @greggyb or gb@twilio.com.

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