Spam calls are a major nuisance—-some experts say that half of all cell phone calls will be robocalls in 2019. Wondering how to change your phone number is a natural response to the robocall assault.
Check that ‘new’ number first?
A “new” phone number may not entirely solve the problem, however. Telecom providers often recycle disconnected phone numbers; the new number you get today may have belonged to someone else just a few months ago.
In most cases, it takes 90 days or more for a telecom provider to reuse a phone number, but in some high-demand area codes, the recycle process happens much more quickly. A recycled number could cause more problems than it solves.
First, recycled numbers are already in telemarketer databases, so spam calls likely won’t go away. Second—and more significantly—your recycled number could be linked to online accounts in the previous owner’s name.
This becomes a problem when you want to update your personal accounts with your new phone number or initiate an online banking transaction or other event that requires two-factor authentication. With two-factor authentication, the service provider sends a numerical code via text to the phone number assigned to your account. If your new phone number was recently recycled and the previous owner hasn’t updated his phone number, it creates a conflict that may be difficult to resolve.
A reverse phone number search of the new numbers offered by your telecom provider may reveal whether and how recently the number was in use before.
How to change your phone number
There are a few things you should do before you contact your carrier to find out how to change your phone number.
Do you have important text messages or voicemails on your phone you want to keep? These may be lost when you switch to a new number. If you have an iPhone, it’s easy to save them to another app or device. You simply open the text or voicemail you want to save and tap the “share” icon. Choose from the following options to save the file:
- “Notes” saves the message to a new or existing note you can access from any compatible device.
- “Voice memo” saves the file as an audio file you can back up to your iTunes account.
- “Message” creates an SMS text you can send to another phone number.
- “Mail” saves the file as an email message.
- “AirDrop” automatically transfers the file to another compatible device within range.
If you have an Android phone, your process for saving important messages depends on your carrier and phone model. Most third-party Android voicemail apps have a “save” feature with options to archive important messages.
Depending on your wireless carrier and phone’s operating system, changing your phone number might wipe out your photos, saved contacts and apps. It’s a good idea to back up your phone before you make the switch.
How to change your phone number: AT&T
You can change your number from the “Account overview” section of the AT&T website:
- Choose “my wireless” from the main menu and select the device you want to switch to a new number.
- Tap “manage device & features” and select “change a wireless number” from the “see more device options” menu.
- Follow the prompts to choose a new number and transfer your device.
You can change your number once for free within 30 days of initial phone activation; after that, AT&T changes $36 to switch to a new number.
How to change your phone number: Verizon
You can change your phone number with Verizon right from the My Verizon app:
- Open the app and tap the three lines at the upper left corner.
- Tap “devices” and choose the device you want to transfer.
- Select “manage” and scroll down to “change mobile number.”
- Follow the prompts to choose a new number and transfer the device.
There is no fee to change your number with Verizon.
How to change your phone number: Sprint
You need to log into your Sprint dashboard to change your phone number:
- Select “manage devices” and click on the blue question mark next to the number you want to change.
- Select “change your phone number” and choose the reason for the phone number switch from the dropdown menu.
- Follow the instructions to program your new number.
You can only change your number three times in a 30-day period with Sprint; it can take up to 72 hours for the new number to work with caller ID.
How to change your phone number: T-Mobile
You need to contact T-Mobile customer service directly to change your phone number. There is a $15 fee for mobile phone number changes, but if you have a prepaid plan, the fee is waived.
Things to do after you change your phone number
Depending on your carrier and voicemail app, you may need to set up a new voicemail box and record a greeting. If you use an iPhone, you need to sync your new number with your iTunes account before you can use your voicemail and other features.
You may also need to change your account profile with your updated number for businesses and services such as:
- Utility providers
- Cable providers
- Banks, lenders and credit card companies
- Investment accounts
- Online profiles for Amazon, Gmail and social media platforms
- Electronic health records with doctors and hospitals
Don’t forget to update the emergency contact information for your spouse and for your children’s school and care providers.
There’s no easy way to share your new phone number with all your contacts. Some people make an announcement on their social media page asking friends to send a private message to get the new number. Others send an email blast to their contact list. Just be prepared for the disgruntled friend or neighbor who didn’t get your new phone number and takes offense.
For some, a new phone number is the only solution to harassing phone calls or relentless telephone spam. For others, it offers just a brief robocall pause—or creates a set of new problems. If you decide to change your phone number, a reverse phone lookup may help avert issues that crop up over recycled numbers. Remember to check with your carrier before you make the switch so you know which steps to take to preserve important data stored on your phone.