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Why does ChatGPT need your phone number?

Everything you need to know
Last Updated on April 15, 2024
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When creating an OpenAI account to use ChatGPT, the signup process will require your phone number. Understandably, you’re cautious about handing out your personal information due to the potential for artificial intelligence-based scams. 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 Microsoft Copilot or Google Gemini, the phone number verification on the GPT-4 platform ChatGPT is comparably as safe as any other major web service.

Quick Answer

ChatGPT requires your mobile number as part of the setup process for making an OpenAI account. Providing personal information online can be a cause for safety concerns. Luckily there are some things you can do to get around it, including using the chatbot without an account, using a VPN, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss why ChatGPT’s system requires your phone number in the setup process, look at the potential problems with providing your number, and look at some ways you can get around this step. Let’s dive right in!

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.

If you’d like to find out more about the process of creating an account with ChatGPT, head to our how-to-log-in guide, where we outline the simple steps of logging in and creating your account.

Luckily, with the recent April 1st, 2024 update, users no longer need to create an account to access the Chatbot. To use the free version of ChatGPT you used to have to create a login which required entering your phone number. However, now you can use ChatGPT without any of the hassle of creating an account. There are a couple of caveats to this rule, however. One is that creating an account allows you to access old conversations, and the other is that you’ll still need to create an account for ChatGPT Plus, Team, and enterprise subscriptions, which will need a phone number. Let’s explore some of the potential problems with providing your mobile number.

Potential problems with providing your mobile number

You may run into a few issues trying to receive an SMS text 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. 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.

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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.

Phone number already linked to account – error message

If you’re seeing the error message “this phone number is already linked to the maximum number of accounts.” it means you’ve already created an account using that number and will 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.

Is giving ChatGPT your number safe?

There are always risks in giving out your personal information online, which is why it’s completely understandable to be concerned about providing ChatGPT with your number. Providing ChatGPT with your mobile number while signing up is completely safe and secure. However, this should not be confused with providing your number whilst in conversation with the chatbot. Any personal information you share with ChatGPT may not be secure and could be at risk of a data leak.

To find out more about the potential risks of using ChatGPT, check out our article, where we discuss the safety and security concerns of ChatGPT in great detail.

Can I 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, ChatGPT Team, 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.

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.

It’s understandable that providing your personal information online could create worry surrounding cyber safety and security. However, when entering your phone number during the setup process of a ChatGPT account, it’s important to remember that your safety is usually one of the platform’s main priorities.

Funmi joined PC Guide in November 2022, and was a driving force for the site's ChatGPT coverage. She has a wide knowledge of AI apps, gaming and consumer technology.