How to use online services for SMS verification | SMS verification without a cell phone
How To verify a service online using SMS without a cell phone
In the fight against SPAM and fraud online many services have opted to try to use SMS verification to prove identity and limit false and multiple accounts.
In my limited knowledge of the internet I have been exposed to this intrusive policy at PayPal, gMail, Craigslist and now my favorite online writing site, HubPages.
It seems like a great idea, by forcing SMS verification, these services can keep out the bad element, right? This would be great if it was true, but in my experience it leads to more lock-outs of legitimate users who are not tech savvy or egads, do not use cell phones!*
In my personal experience I have directly seen the frustration that was caused by a legitimate online users inability to provide SMS verification to Google which resulted in a lock out of all Google services; gMail, Google Calender, Google Adsense and Google Analytics. Can you imagine the heart attack you would have if you were locked out of your place of work and both the keys to get back in and the only means to call anyone with the ability to get inside were inside that office? That would be the offline equivalent.
If you are bored you can read through 100 or so disgruntled gmail users pleas about SMS -http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/07/creating-gmail-account-requires-sms.html
But if you find yourself in the position of needing the ability to SMS verify and you don't have a cell phone, have exceeded your text message limits or simply don't trust online services with your personal information, here are a bunch of free and easy ways to verify via SMS without compromising your identity.
The shame is that all of these methods are well known by the bad element that SMS verification was created to combat, the subset of online users that make money hand over fist, spamming Craigslist with false ads and offers, create multiple PayPal accounts for fraudulent purposes, require hundreds if not thousands of gMail accounts or need multiple accounts to auto-post gibberish to Hubpages will have the funds and technical expertise to quickly placate SMS verification requirements and continue their dastardly missions. It's nothing more than a speed bump for them, but it could be the end of the line for a less tech savvy and legitimate online user.
*Many of these services including HubPages do have alternate Voice Call options for verification.
What is SMS, anyway?
SMS is Short Message Service it is the communications protocol that is more commonly known as text messaging.
Option 1 - Get a cell phone
No, this isn't a cop out or a misdirection.
Pre-Paid cell phones are very cheap these days and can be activated in 15 minutes. Since SMS verification seems to be growing in popularity you may just want to bite the bullet and have the option readily available when necessary.
Tracfone, Net10 and StraightTalk; phones can all be purchased for around $20-$40 including a basic minute package. Use it for SMS and keep it around for vacations or random emergencies.
But, there are non-cell options, so lets quickly outline them.
Option 2 - Online Phone Services / VOIP
Most of us are familiar with online phone services, Skype and Google Voice are pretty well known, but can you use them to receive SMS?
You can through Google Voice - http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html
You can Receive SMS to Skype via multiple services that exist for specifically that reason, but, unfortunately the method is not something that can be used for sms verification.
Since Google Voice is so easily registered for and is such a great package, I have never dug much deeper. The Spammers and Scammers who would need SMS verification abilities in multiples, likely have many Google Voice accounts.
Option 3 - Online SMS Services
There are lots and lots of services that create "virtual numbers" and then allow you to have sms received to them sent to your email.
Some are offering free trials, some allow for a set number of messages for free and a very cheap per text rate on top of that and other follow a subscription model like any other phone. The main point, is they are cheap and hundreds of them can be created via the massive number of companies creating virtual numbers.
- Mobifi - http://www.mobifi.com/product-vmn.php#standard
- SMS Dragon - https://www.smsdragon.com/ (uses virtual currency, more of a novelty than a real option)
- 2 Way SMS - https://www.2-waysms.com/?page=virtual_mobile_numbers
- Lleida.net - http://lleida.net/en/ (requires SMS to sign up, so is best used if you have privacy concerns or can borrow a friends cell for a sec)
A simple search for inbound sms to virtual number will show you how common this is for legitimate and illegitimate purposes.
SMS verification to stop spammers! .. what a joke.