Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Temporary Phone Numbers Stop Cyberstalkers
A mother appalled by online dating stories from divorced friends is set to become a millionaire after launching a unique website to protect women from cyber-stalkers.
Last week model Kelly Brook revealed how she is forced to constantly change her phone number because she is targeted by nuisance calls.
But 52-year-old Gill Kamel's patented site can instantly create a temporary number for your mobile - which diverts to your current phone - to hand out to strangers, safe in the knowledge they don't know what your actual number is.
And if they turn out to be odd-balls you merely shut down that number, create a fresh one and hand that out to your next new dates or friends.
Her site www.losemynumber.co.uk is deemed such an important new tool to protect men and women on the internet that it has been singled out for praise by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The organisation promotes personal safety.
Married mother-of-two Gill, of Ormskirk, Lancs, said she hopes that no more women should endure stress or fear by simply searching for love or companionship.
She said: 'Internet dating and social networking is a fantastic new way for people to reach out and make new friends - but there are always people out there who are not all they seem and we take so much on trust.
'Hopefully Lose My Number will give people more confidence, feeling safe in the knowledge they are not letting their guard down too much.'
She revealed how many of her friends have joined the growing statistic of divorced couples, estimated at over 120,000 a year in the UK alone.
She said: 'Like myself, a lot of my friends met their husbands at school.
'So none of us had much experience of going out and meeting men. Now, quite a few of them are divorced and are always telling me how difficult they're finding dating.
'But all the rules are different. At what point do you give out your phone number or address?
'Your personal number can give away a lot of personal information about you, not least your home address. There needed to be a safer way to give out your details.
'When one of my employees told me she had been harassed over the phone by a man after trying to sell some old designer clothes on eBay, that was when I decided I had to set up Lose My Number.
'She called the police to let them know what had happened and their only advice was to cancel her phone contract and get a new number. Some people go through the hassle of buying pay-as-you-go phones.
'I realised that there must be a better alternative - I looked around and no-one was providing a quick and easy way to get alternative numbers.'
Mrs Gill has worked in the property and mortgage industry with husband Melvyn for 30 years, up until April of this year when the brainwave saw her create Lose My Number.
After hearing her friend's awful experience with an eBay stalker, she and a few friends decided to test out how easy it was for women to be pressurised into giving out their mobile.
Posing as single women they joined several dating sites and within ten minutes Gill alone had 65 men asking her for her contact details.
Realising what people needed she got advice from IT specialists and launched her site in April this year thinking it would be a minor web aid.
Now it has customers in 194 towns and cities in the UK and abroad and advisors from her regional Government-backed development agency project that her 'High Growth Business' will sweep Europe and America, with the 'potential' to be worth more than £10million.
Her site works by simply typing in your mobile number - and it sends you back a new number starting with '070'.
Your original number will still continue to work, but now you can have up to ten 'follow-me' numbers that will also be diverted through to your mobile.
There is no charge for the customer as people ringing the '070' number do so for 50p a minute, so the service is perfect for making short, initial chats to check the person you meet online really is who they say they are.
You can shut down any '070' number you create at any time if the caller turns out to be a nuisance.
She said: 'No other website can do what we do.
'We have already had a lot of interest from other companies wanting to take the idea abroad - we are still very new but growing every week.'
Her creation has already won praise from one respected organisation - the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, set up following the tragic disappearance of 25 year-old estate agent Suzy in 1986.
Jo Walker at the Trust, said: 'It's so important to take some basic safety precautions when meeting new people, whether that's online, at a party or in a club.
'It's always wiser to avoid giving new acquaintances any of your contact details, such as phone number, until you know them better.
'In the meantime use a service like Lose My Number, which is designed specifically to help people feel more secure and have extra peace of mind when meeting new people.'
Kelly Brook recently revealed that she gets so much male attention she has to change her mobile phone number regularly in a bid to avoid being bombarded with calls.
She said: 'Men ask so I give it out. I’m quite approachable. I have to change my number every couple of months because I give it to anybody who asks for it.
'Then they all keep calling me and I change it.'