Browse Definitions :

burner phone

What is a burner phone?

A burner phone, or burner, is an inexpensive mobile phone designed for temporary, sometimes anonymous, use, after which it may be discarded. Burners are purchased with prepaid minutes and without a formal contract with a communications provider. While some users may buy burner phones for cash to avoid the financial commitment of a contract, some others use their phones for illicit purposes, such as criminal conspiracies and fraud.

Even though, by definition, burner phones can be thrown away, most typical consumers keep them and eventually buy more minutes for continued use.

Only people with extreme needs for privacy or a desire to evade law enforcement are likely to use burners as a disposable device, sometimes after only a single call.

Reasons someone might use a burner phone

In many instances, people turn to a burner phone because they don't want to use their primary cell phone numbers, which are increasingly being used as a unique identifier.

Phone numbers aren't subject to privacy requirements in the same way as Social Security and credit card numbers, so phone numbers can be shared fairly readily. As a result, mobile number privacy is a growing security issue. So, use of a burner phone is one defense against loss of private data.

Other reasons for using a burner phone can vary from wanting to keep business and personal calls separate to avoiding telemarketers and former spouses.

Burner phones can also be useful when traveling because users can avoid huge international roaming charges by using a local SIM card.

How to get a burner phone

Burner phones commonly are available for purchase at convenience stores, big box retailers and online. Users also can download a free burner app to give their existing smartphones the privacy capabilities of a physical burner phone.

Burner phone vs. smartphone

A burner phone is essentially a feature phone that has been stripped down to the bare essentials, which may mean capabilities such as internet access, apps and camera. It typically is used for only voice calls and texts.

A smartphone is a full-fledged mobile device that offers all the bells and whistles, including an internet connection, apps and more.

Alternatives for securing a smartphone

If security is a priority but a customer doesn't want to purchase a burner phone, there are other options available.

Burner apps

One simple method of increasing mobile security is the use of a burner phone app or service (rather than an actual device), which provides a temporary phone number that can be utilized instead of the user's actual cell number.

This number can be used for making and receiving calls and texts, as well as for creating a temporary voicemail. Once the user is finished with the service, the number is discarded and cannot be used again.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires not only a password but also a code that is sent to the user's phone to log in. This makes it more difficult for someone to hack into an account.

Remote wiping

Remote wiping is a feature that allows a customer to remotely erase all the data on their phone if it is lost or stolen. This can help to protect the customer's sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Learn about disposable phone numbers and check out the ultimate guide to mobile device security in the workplace.

This was last updated in October 2022

Continue Reading About burner phone

  • SD-WAN security

    SD-WAN security refers to the practices, protocols and technologies protecting data and resources transmitted across ...

  • net neutrality

    Net neutrality is the concept of an open, equal internet for everyone, regardless of content consumed or the device, application ...

  • network scanning

    Network scanning is a procedure for identifying active devices on a network by employing a feature or features in the network ...

  • virtual firewall

    A virtual firewall is a firewall device or service that provides network traffic filtering and monitoring for virtual machines (...

  • cloud penetration testing

    Cloud penetration testing is a tactic an organization uses to assess its cloud security effectiveness by attempting to evade its ...

  • cloud workload protection platform (CWPP)

    A cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) is a security tool designed to protect workloads that run on premises, in the cloud ...

  • Regulation SCI (Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity)

    Regulation SCI (Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity) is a set of rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange ...

  • strategic management

    Strategic management is the ongoing planning, monitoring, analysis and assessment of all necessities an organization needs to ...

  • IT budget

    IT budget is the amount of money spent on an organization's information technology systems and services. It includes compensation...

  • ADP Mobile Solutions

    ADP Mobile Solutions is a self-service mobile app that enables employees to access work records such as pay, schedules, timecards...

  • director of employee engagement

    Director of employee engagement is one of the job titles for a human resources (HR) manager who is responsible for an ...

  • digital HR

    Digital HR is the digital transformation of HR services and processes through the use of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (...

Customer Experience
  • chatbot

    A chatbot is a software or computer program that simulates human conversation or "chatter" through text or voice interactions.

  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.