Changing Your Cellphone Identity

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Getting a second or third phone number is simple these days, with services like Jajah and Skype that tap the Internet phoning craze using a PC. A new service called TalkPlus does the same for your cellphone, adding phone numbers to divide your mobile work from your dating scene, or your good customers from the cheapskates.

TalkPlus uses the Internet to route calls made to a second number to your cellphone. Because it's a Web-based service, it also offers extra control over those calls–you can fling certain callers directly to voicemail, for example, or even give them a continuous busy signal.

With a 14-day free trial, TalkPlus is worth a try for anyone who lives on a cellphone, or lives a double (or triple) life, with plans starting at $9 a month. Besides being able to give a special phone number to special people, you can also use that identity to make calls from your mobile–so the recipient doesn't see your real mobile number. Or you can have TalkPlus spoof your call as coming from any number you own, such as your home or office.

I found it awkward to make calls, which on my handset meant having to navigate its clumsy Web browser. Apparently, TalkPlus will download a easier-to-use applet on other handsets. Even then, the service confusingly suggests you're calling a different number than you dialed–one of several rough edges I encountered.

Also, keep in mind that you burn cell minutes as well as TalkPlus minutes (you get 60 of the latter for $9 a month). Go over your TalkPlus limit, and extra minutes cost 10 cents each. Hey, nobody said it was cheap living a double life while on the run. But it is getting easier.