A Gatineau, Que., company has created an application that gives mobile phone users the ability to purchase a disposable number to give them more anonymity.
The Hushed app was launched on Android phones two months ago and Apple phones two weeks ago and has been downloaded between 500 and 1,000 times a day, according to AffinityClick founder and chief executive Justin Shimoon.
Shimoon said having a disposable number is useful for people who want privacy when shopping or using services online.
"So rather than giving their number out to somebody they may not trust, or they just met - if you're on a dating site and you're going to give somebody your phone number — you'd prefer to give them a hushed number," said Shimoon.
Private investigators, police, using app
He acknowledges it could be used for criminal activity, but said people who want to purchase numbers using the app would still have to provide credit card information. And unlike "burner" phones, people are unlikely to throw away their smartphone after using the app to avoid being traced.
"We can't really comment on who's using it. We don't look at the actual end user — primarily for privacy reasons — but yes I mean ultimately it could be used for a bunch of different purposes — some of them good — some of them potentially bad," said Shimoon, who said some private investigators and even law enforcement officials are using the app.
AffinityClick leases the numbers it uses from other providers, and users are not bound to cell phone carriers — because it uses data connections and not phone lines.
Users can download the app for free, but obtaining numbers cost $1.99 a phone number, with rates for calls dependent on the country you are calling and added costs for holding onto a number beyond a set time.