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What is the cheapest solution to buy a phone number (could be an international number anywhere in the world) that just plays a message that I've recorded then hangs up?

I don't have a phone number. I don't want to have a phone number. Alas, it's becoming increasingly difficult to register for an account without providing a valid phone number. In cases where I signup for an account online and they require me to enter a valid phone number just to have it on-record (dumb "signup form" required fields), I want to just be able to enter some phone number that, when called, will play an automated message saying:

Hello, you've reached the phone number for XYZ. To contact me, please email me at [email protected]. Thank you.

I'm assuming that because this solution would it only take incoming calls (0 outgoing calls), all the calls would be free.

What is the cheapest way to get an actual phone number that just plays a pre-recorded message and hangs-up?

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It seems like MagicJack™ may prove to be useful to you. The standard installation involves a device connected to the internet (small box) getting power from a USB connector. That connector either plugs into a computer USB port or the usual USB power adapter often used to charge cellular phones.

One of the jacks on the device is for ethernet cable, the other for a telephone circuit. I would expect that it's necessary to have at least the ethernet cable connected to initialize the device. It's also likely that it can be disconnected immediately after.

My MagicJack™ experiences disconnection periodically from being kicked. It drops the ethernet and telephone connection and all calls go to voicemail. This indicates that once initialized, you don't really have to have the module operational, although duration of this status is untested.

The only aspect of your requirements that can't be addressed is the hang up after the greeting message is played. Your greeting message can end with "please hang up now." Additionally, MagicJack™ can be configured to send transcribed voice mail to your desired email address.

You might have to sign into the account via web browser or phone app or dial into the number to clear the voice mails. This is also untested on my part.

MagicJack™ has an initial fee to set up the account and a low monthly fee. I've recently renewed my account for five years at a cost of a few cents higher than US$4 per month.

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  • ~$50 per year still seems pretty high for a phone that isn't actually used to make calls. Surely there must be some "virtual phone number" that I can route to my server via SIP for ~$2/yr? Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 8:31

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