UPDATE: The Digital Nomad likes free services, and the availability of free "Bandit Phone Numbers" come and go. The definition of a bandit phone number is a disposable number that you can use when filling out any paper forms, or online applications that may require a verifiable phone number, but mask your actual home, business, or cell phone number to provide privacy, prevent fraud, and profiling by cross-referencing of data bases (similar to using postal boxes for mail privacy). A bandit number is a working telephone number that will be answered by an automated voice mail system, and the message forwarded to be retrieved usually via email.
The ultimate free service right now is Google Grand Central. Unfortunately, GC numbers are hard to come by, and they probably won't always be free. Most free bandit numbers are a voice mail service, sometimes packaged with a fax-to-email service to promote an upgrade to premium paid services. NetZero PrivatePhone was the Digital Nomads favorite bandit phone service, but will cease to exist on December 31st, 2007.
Even if you are not a fan of fax technology, on a rare occasion someone invariably will want to send or receive a facsimile as a way to communicate. So, the fax capability is a bonus, but the free blind telephone number is the key element for mobile nomads. Click on the graphic for a larger view.
Right now the current recommendations to replace PrivatePhone are K7.net and jConnect. Both of these services provide a free telephone number, and the basic voice messaging and facsimile functions have been tested (only free services recommended by this blog). If you need to send a fax, and do not use a fax machine, consider FaxZero and FreeFax. Both of these online services offer free basic fax services, as of the writing of this post (only free services recommended by this blog). -Digital Nomad
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