Sometimes I need to access Microsoft forums, for example, to report bugs in Visual Studio, or ask some programing related question. The problem is that I cannot open an account in Microsoft websites, because it demands a phone number.

Due to my employer policies, I cannot use my personal number for working purposes, and I am not provided a personal phone number at work, so I cannot open an account. I'm impeded to use a lot of internet resources for that reason. (For instance, I can no more open a gmail account.)

Actually, I have an office number, but it was already used by another employee, and I cannot reuse the same number to open my accounts. The company will not provide a phone just for me.

My manager isn't a programmer, and she doesn't understand my problem, since I'm the only one complaining. Other programmers in the team mostly use Oracle SQL or non-Microsoft products.

What can I do to address this conundrum?

  • 13
    Why can you not reuse the same phone number? My company reuses phone numbers all the time (because we only have a limited number). Even my personal mobile number used to belong to someone else. Jun 6, 2018 at 17:00
  • 7
    Does the whole firm have no more telephone? No way to call the reception? If they do that use that phone number.
    – Hennes
    Jun 6, 2018 at 17:29
  • 8
    What really are the consequences of just sticking your cellphone number in the form? Is the company ever going to know?
    – LeLetter
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:21
  • 2
    @Hennes - Microsoft requires a cell phone that they can text a code to just to create an account for their forum. Jun 6, 2018 at 22:37
  • 4
    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Should be possible. In my country, phone numbers get reused in general. My phone number belonged to a very popular guy. I used to get asked to go to the movies by girls all the time. Luckily, that has stopped. They lived too far away and my boyfriend didn't appreciate ;)
    – Belle
    Jun 7, 2018 at 6:28

9 Answers 9


Tell Email your boss that your work is impeded due to the lack of an official phone number, and do as he/she says.

Explaining technical issues to non-technical coworkers is an important skill every technical person must grow, especially since non-technical bosses are ubiquitous in the software industry.

In this case, instead of telling the boss "I cannot reliably generate the TPS report because Visual Studio's JSON parser sporadically fails to highlight a mismatched brace", phrase it in a manner that would be of interest to him/her:

Boss, one of the steps to generate the TPS report requires Visual Studio tool. This tool comes from Microsoft. Sometimes, the tool doesn't work as expected, which messes up the TPS report. To get this issue fixed, I need to post a bug report on Microsoft's customer support forum. An official phone number is mandatory to create an account on their support forum. Hence, I would need one to be able to make progress with the TPS report.

This is a lot more verbose than what you would have to explain to a technical manager, but it is more likely to get you the support you need.

Then the next time the boss asks why you haven't prepared the TPS report, you can just say you are still blocked due to the tool issue. Keep repeating as often as necessary.

Either the boss will get asked for the TPS report soon enough (at which point, he/she will "get" the issue and tell you what to do) or nobody will ever bother about the TPS report (in which case, you can just forget about the whole thing).


You've presented your manager with a problem, but not any solutions. This leaves your manager responding with "gibberish" instead of approving something that gets you unblocked. So how could you solve this problem? A few possibilities:

  • Get a company phone. This would work, and I have no idea whether it would be helpful to you in the rest of your job, but it's also overkill for this specific problem. You need a phone number to create the account, not ongoing access to a phone to use it routinely.
  • Get permission to use your personal phone number to create the account.
  • Get permission to use someone else's phone number to create the account: your manager's phone, your office's reception, a co-worker's phone, etc...
  • Create a team account your office can use, using a company phone number.
  • Use a service (whatever is available in your country) for a VoIP phone number at no/low cost.
  • Check to see whether a valid phone number is required at all (does the registration process validate it with a challenge/response?)

Pick one or two that make the most sense for your situation, and propose them to your manager (if needed; some you may be able to implement yourself), along with a brief explanation of the problem and how it impacts your work. In other words: "I'm blocked on X because of this phone number problem. I'd like to do Y to fix it. Is that ok? If you have questions or want to discuss the other options I considered, let me know."

  • Good answer, make it easy for the manager by giving a solution(s)
    – Kilisi
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:13

Try calling your number with some extra digits at the end, so instead of 555-1234 try 555-12345678.

If it works, you have an unlimited number of phone numbers!

  • I'd plus one, but likely should be a comment. Jun 6, 2018 at 23:29
  • @JoshuaDrake Why? This sounds like an answer with a potential solution to me...
    – marcelm
    Jun 7, 2018 at 6:40
  • I presume you mean to use that with the previously used company 'phone number, not the OP's private number? It might work, ass far as the 'phone network is concerned, but there is always a chance that the web form validates the 'phone number and says that it is too long. Still worth trying, though. As is reusing the ex-employee's account (which belongs to the company)
    – Mawg
    Jun 7, 2018 at 8:38

I assume that the company has a phone line. In which case, just give the company's main switchboard number. If somebody actually tries to contact you through that number, then you can probably be hunted down.

That's a lot simpler and quicker than trying to persuade your boss to give you a personal phone, just so you can put something on a form.

  • 1
    Its worth noting that often these support forums don't even use those numbers. At worst it might be to text you a confirmation code. You can probably get away with a bogus number.
    – Kommissar
    Jun 6, 2018 at 21:06
  • The confirmation code is used to log into account in this case. A fake number will result in an account that can’t be used
    – Donald
    Jun 9, 2018 at 0:30

You do what you´d do with all resources you think you need for your work:

  • Write to your management what exactly you require.
  • Outline clearly what the benefits for the company are (faster work-results, better quality etc.?) Try to make a good estimate of the numbers.
  • Briefly outline the costs.
  • If you have, alternative solutions, list them also. (instead of providing a phone, allow usage of private account for this purpose)

Start with a short summary in your first line, than go into the details.

Then wait and live with their decision. Remember, they pay you for your time. If they decide it is better for their success if you to work a week on a solution you could get from the internet in 5 minutes, it´s their decision to make. You made them aware of the costs involved in that decision, you can use that whenever a performance-review comes up so you are kind of covered.


(Subject: Request for work-resources)

Summary: I am loosing productivity due to inaccessible information resources at MS. The problem could be remedied by either assigning me a work-phone for authentication purposes or by giving me a waiver to use my private account.

Hi Bob,

I am experiencing frequent problems when working with M-Soft products, because I cant access their documentation without a MS-Account. To authenticate, MS requires me to provide a phone number. I can´t use the general office line as this has already been used by a former colleague. I´d use my private phone or my personal account, but to my understanding you policy explicitly forbids this.

As we use MS-Technology for almost all of our products, this causes a frequent delay, I would estimate that I have to spend about ~5 hours a week looking for other resources, which are often not as reliably.

To register an account, I need a simple phone number, which is occasionally checked by MS so I need continued access. It can also not be a shared phone, as MS allow only one account to be associated with this.

A viable alternative could be to give me permission to use my private MS-account for this purpose. I would only use it to access information, not to post or store company information so the operational risk should be minimal.

Please advise how to proceed in removing this obstacle.



(adjust tone to your setting)


What can be done?

Ask your boss about using a Google Voice and get a free VOIP number. Once you set it up, this Google voice number can point to any real number you wish. I use it so I don't have to use my real cell phone number. (Available in US only, otherwise you can use Google hangouts)

Getting started with Google Voice

Also, I would suggest you use the various sites here on stack exchange, such as stackOverFlow -- a far superior resource and does not require a phone number. I have not used a MS Forum in years.

  • 9
    I don't live in USA. Google Voice is only available in USA, and it also requires a google account, which requires a phone number, which I cannot provide because the phone office is already used by somebody for his own work-gmail account.
    – hokisajam
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:06
  • @hokisajam I believe you can get creative and work around this. I have been doing it for years and most companies have the same policy here in the US. Also, use STACKOVERFLOW versus MS Forums.
    – Neo
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:10
  • 3
    @hokisajam That is true. You do have to search and make sure your not asking a question that hasn't already been asked. If you get comments from jerks, FLAG them. The Moderator's over there are pretty good too.
    – Neo
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:29
  • @Neo MS Forums tend to have simpler questions on them, and at least in my experience, it doesn't overlap with SOE very well, so I don't know if not using MS Forums is a valid solution here (ripping off the band aid aside).
    – RandomUs1r
    Jun 6, 2018 at 20:40
  • Google hangout works only for outgoing calls; won't help.
    – Antzi
    Jun 7, 2018 at 7:50

Since you have an office number that is now in your possession, get that number dissociated from another person's account, so that you can create yours. Contact Microsoft customer support and ask them how to proceed.

  • Or, just use the other person's account :-) After all, it should be company property.
    – Mawg
    Jun 7, 2018 at 7:46
  • @Mawg I don't think this will be possible, since the OP will also need access to his colleague's e-mail to completely take over the account. Jun 7, 2018 at 7:58
  • From what the OP says, "I cannot use my personal number for working purposes", I extrapolate that company policy forbids using a private email address too. Thus the previous employee would have used a company email address, for a company account, which the OP can reuse.
    – Mawg
    Jun 7, 2018 at 8:07
  • @Mawg I'm not sure it would be possible. But if the OP can reuse his colleague's e-mail, then they can simply reset the password and voila - they can login to the forum. Jun 7, 2018 at 8:31
  • That's exactly what I am thinking. @hokisajam what about it?
    – Mawg
    Jun 7, 2018 at 8:34

Lets's try some lateral thinking.

You don't need a physical 'phone to have a 'phone number.

I googled free phone number receive sms and there were a bunch of hits.

The first one says

Currently We support few countries numbers like: USA, Spain, Romania,Uk,Germany, France, Russia, Italy and we will try to add more.

You don't say which country you are in, but a search ought to be able to turn up something to help you - just so long as you only want to receive SMS and not voice calls.

And, if the web form does not validate that the number given is from the country where you are, or which you give as your street address, then you don't care which country you use.


Use a Microsoft account that you created for yourself with your personal phone number. The Microsoft account should be tied to you personally since you will want access to those forums outside of your current employment. Unless there is a company policy that you cannot use personal accounts to access those Microsoft forums, this is within bounds of the existing policy.

  • The company policy is that any account I use at work, or for work purposes, belongs to the company.
    – hokisajam
    Jun 6, 2018 at 14:48
  • @hokisajam This is pretty common policy. I think you an figure out how to work around it.
    – Neo
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:02
  • 3
    @Neo "any account I use at work, or for work purposes, belongs to the company" does not sound like it should be "pretty common policy". Note that OP isn't talking about products of work performed during work hours becoming company intellectual property; they're talking about any account used at work or for work purposes. So basically, for example, if you have a personal Stack Exchange account and log in to that from work, now that account "belongs" to the company. Not the same thing.
    – user
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:49
  • @MichaelKjörling It is here in the US, its just not actively enforced.
    – Neo
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:55
  • 2
    hokisajam, I don't believe such a policy would hold up in any court of law. Your stuff belongs to you - your employer can't make a policy that says they take whatever they feel like. Jun 7, 2018 at 5:58

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