Why does ChatGPT need your phone number?

OpenAI's mobile verification process

ChatGPT login and sign up requires mobile phone numbers. How does it use user data?

PC Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Read More

Last Updated on

When creating an OpenAI account, the signup process will require your phone number. Understandably, you’re cautious about handing out your personal information due to news you’ve heard of artificial intelligence-based scams. Privacy concerns and data collection malware have been top of mind for many media organizations since OpenAI’s ChatGPT sparked the gold rush in November 2022. Fortunately, OpenAI has far more to gain from providing an honest and effective service — and billions of dollars to lose if it doesn’t. While it’s sensible to protect your personal data privacy in chats with an AI chatbot like Bing Chat or Google Bard, or even a search engine like Google, phone number verification on the GPT-4 platform Chat GPT is comparably as safe as any other major web service.

Why does ChatGPT need your phone number?

When you sign up for an OpenAI account to log in to ChatGPT, the company performs two verification steps. This is not inherently a cause for concern.

A two-step verification process is typically used for security reasons and helps to ensure a real person is creating an account, instead of a bot. The first is through email. And the second is via an SMS text message sent to your phone with a verification code. It must be a valid phone number, and unsurprisingly, it won’t work with a landline. Those who wish to use ChatGPT must complete these steps to be granted access.

Potential problems with providing your mobile number

However, you may run into a few issues trying to perform this if ChatGPT is not available in your country. Interestingly, the language model is available in most countries. However, you cannot access it in territories with government restrictions on internet access, or explicit AI bans.

Some Reddit users from these countries have reported facing problems at the second verification step, as they cannot receive the SMS code. Therefore, in addition to personal data privacy concerns, sometimes the issues lie in mobile infrastructure, which varies from country to country.

Path of EX, suggests that OpenAI requires a mobile number to try to limit the number of accounts users can make. Most people, do not have more than two mobile numbers but do have multiple emails, so this could be a plausible reason.

But from what it seems like, asking for a phone number just gives a second verification step. This is actually very common nowadays. It is pretty rare to sign up for an online service and not be asked to provide both an email and mobile number.

Can you use ChatGPT Plus without a phone number?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to use any version of ChatGPT without a phone number, so that means ChatGPT Plus and ChatGPT Enterprise too. This is required for the signup process. Your phone number must also be from a location where ChatGPT is available in order for the verification to work.

Error message — “this phone number is already linked to the maximum number of accounts.”

If you’re seeing the error message “this phone number is already linked to the maximum number of accounts.” then you’ll have to either:

  • Use the ChatGPT account linked to that mobile number.
  • Get a new SIM card with a new phone number, and create a new ChatGPT account.

How to use ChatGPT without a phone number

So since we know that you cannot create an OpenAI account without a mobile number, here are a few methods you could try, to work around the phone verification step.

Using a VPN to sign up for ChatGPT

Using a VPN does allow you to bypass the location restrictions. However, you will still need to use a mobile number to create an account in the first place. To our dismay, it is reported that OpenAI will not accept VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) numbers. However, this method could still work if you have a phone from a location where ChatGPT is available.

To do so, simply set up your VPN and head to the ChatGPT website to create an account. When you reach the step where you need to input your mobile number, make sure you input the number that’s from a location where ChatGPT is available.

Contact Open AI support

If you live in a country where OpenAI is available, but you are having difficulty with the phone verification step, this option is for you.

By contacting OpenAI’s support team, they should be able to find the cause and a resolution to your problem. While you wait, there is also the potential to use a friend or family’s OpenAI account.

Virtual phone number

It’s possible to create a virtual phone number in the same way as a temporary email. It acts as a private number that redirects to your primary phone number without giving away your real data.

What can I use ChatGPT for?

ChatGPT is a very versatile AI language model. It can do pretty much anything that requires a text response. For example, it can’t generate an image but writes an email very well.

Unsurprisingly, the quality of ChatGPT’s response does depend on the difficulty of the task and how niche your request is. Some users online have reported that the model struggles with mathematical calculations and some difficult coding problems.

Nevertheless, you can use ChatGPT for a range of tasks. Such as essay writing, text summarization, generating creative content, language translation, explaining topics, and writing code.

Final Thoughts

So there we have it! It seems as though OpenAI will continue to use mobile numbers in its registration process. This is bad news for you if ChatGPT is not available in your country.

In this article, we have outlined a couple of methods to bypass this problem, although it seems pretty tricky without the right circumstances. If you found this article helpful, be sure to read another article here.