Free Phone Management Service with Google Voice

Smart Device / Phone
Photo courtesy Pexels

In early 2008, I stumbled upon a FREE service called Grand Central (circa 2006), which provided you with a new, permanent* phone number to manage incoming phone calls. At the time I opted in, the service presented you with your first six numbers of your phone number, and you were able to pick the final four based on availability. The service that Grand Central provided was extremely valuable to me, as you can even see from my “On This Day” Facebook post in March of that year:

Grand Central Google Voice

Why? Because:

  1. I can forward calls from this new number to any set of realย receiving numbers that I choose simultaneously, casting me a wider net of phones to pickup from (mobile, home, work, etc.)
  2. I can change that set of real receiving phone numbers as often as I’d like (think: temporarily transfer calls to a landline you’re near on travel)
  3. All callers, who I didn’t already have in my address book, would be asked to say their name when calling me (they are only ever asked once, it’s saved)
  4. During this time, my receiving numbers start ringing and display a number of my choosing: either my service number (my preference) or the number of the caller
  5. When I first pickup, I don’t speak to the person right away, instead I hear a “whisper” of the individual’s stated name (or the virtual assistant reading it out loud)
  6. I then have the choice to send the caller to voicemail -and- listen simultaneously in real-time or pickup the call
  7. When a voicemail is left, it’s loosely transcribed into text and emailed to me (and I find it much faster to skim the text of the email than to listen to a long voicemail)**
  8. It keeps most spoof callers from calling me in the first place (think: really good spam identification and protection, in advance of the calls reaching you) and even if a caller makes its way through the service that I never want to hear from again, it’s extremely easy to block numbers
  9. Outbound calls that I place through the service are masked and do not reveal my real number(s)
  10. I can text to / from this number
  11. The service has both a web interface and smart device apps too

And, lucky for me, I was keen to hand out my Google Voice number in 2008 and beyond because of the controls it offered to me. That meant I gave it out:

  • In my personal email signature line (though you could certainly use it for business too)
  • Calling cards I kept at the ready in my pocketbook
  • To Facebook connections as my primary phone number listed on my account
  • To all service providers (whether that was for house work, car work, or medical services)
  • To all sales representatives (really came in handy when I was chased by a car dealership sales representative who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and would come in very handy when shopping around for mortgages too)
  • To all coworkers (it’s my primary phone number in my Salesforce profile) and job application profiles
  • To all reward point systems (grocery stores, retailers, restaurants)
  • To all banks
  • To all product registrations
  • To all domain name registrations
  • To anyone and everyone – I didn’t mind giving it out because it was so easy to block unwanted callers!

Only close friends and family that had my real mobile phone number prior to 2008 had and continued to use that for communicating with me instead.

This retrained me. I never ever, not ever pick up phone calls straight to my mobile device or home phone that are not already in my contacts list or someone I recognize on caller ID. That means all phishing, spoofed, illegal phone calls coming to my cell phone just ring through and never reach me. (Picking up only confirms that your number does in fact reach a live human, which is why you should never pickup calls you do not recognize on caller ID anyway. If no one picks up those calls, there is no market for the illegal activity).

Fast forward to today, 2018…ten years later, and that service is now known as Google Voice. Google acquired Grand Central shortly before I had hopped on board, in 2007 for over $50MM. There was a brief period where they wouldn’t allow for any new accounts while they rolled everything over to Google’s system. When they finally relaunched under the new brand, they allowed for much more user control over setting your desired phone number (no longer just the last four digits).

Feel a bit behind the times? Don’t worry. You can still hop on your FREE Google Voice account and number today.

Note: You do not need to have a Gmail email address to use the service. You simply need a Google Account, which can be tied to any email address you’d like. If you happen to have a Gmail email address, this doubles as your Google Account. Also, if you opt into Google’s ridiculously low-cost mobile network, Project Fi, you will not be able to use the features and functionality offered by Google Voice as your Google Account can then only be tied to your Project Fi number, which offers it’s own call management platform.

*So long as I use the service, having an open account.
**Give a listen toย Flipped Lifestyle, episode 184ย if you want further advice on why you shouldn’t ever spend time listening to voicemails.

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Mom of three littles, and a small business supporter, Amy Lynn, is the woman behind the Saving Amy blog, covering a broad range of topics with an ultimate goal to encourage and inspire you to save both money and time.Have a sunny day! Have a sunny day!