How to Educate Users on Why You Need Their Phone Number | TeleSign


We get it, user acquisition isn’t always easy. When a potential new user is anxious to try out your website or app for the first time, any steps they deem unnecessary can lead to abandonment and a lost opportunity. Conversion is key to growth. For some users, the request to provide their phone number during this process can be an immediate turn-off, but you and your team know how essential it is for account security and fraud prevention. Luckily, the solution is pretty simple: educate your users on the value of two-factor authentication.

Why Are Users Concerned About Providing Their Phone Number?


People are attached to their phone numbers. In fact, TeleSign’s 2015 Consumer Account Security Report found that 1 in 4 consumers wouldn’t change their mobile numbers for any amount of money and almost 6 in 10 people haven’t changed their phone number in the past five years. Phone numbers are considered privileged, private information. Beyond that, many consumers worry that businesses are only asking for their numbers so they can use them (or sell them to other businesses to use) for marketing and other unsolicited uses. It’s important that consumers understand that responsible companies are actually using phone numbers to keep them safe.

How to Ask a User for Their Phone Number


The first step in making users feel secure about providing their phone numbers to a website or mobile app is to follow UI best practices that some of the world’s largest companies have found effective. It may be obvious to some product teams and developers, but the key here is in simply explaining why their phone number is required. Clearly state that their number is needed in order to verify their identity and securely complete their registration. The terminology will depend on the use case, but one example is: “Please take a moment to verify your phone number. This helps us confirm your identity and secure your account.” You can do this within the registration experience or, depending on device (mobile or desktop), offer a “further information” link/pop up option. The link/pop up option can be especially valuable if you want to give more details around why you are requesting a phone number, similar to this explainer post on It can also be helpful here to include a Privacy Statement that describes more fully that SMS messages or voice calls may be directed to the number for verifications.

How to Explain Two-Factor Authentication to an End-User


So, you’ve explained why you’re asking for their phone number (that it confirms their identity and secures their account) but that’s a very high-level message. For some, providing more details around how 2FA works could make the difference between a conversion and an abandonment. Additionally, this education will benefit that user as they use other sites and apps and now understand the value that comes with protecting their entire life online. As stated above, this information can be linked to when asking for the number, and live wherever appropriate on your site or app. provides a lot of consumer-facing information on 2FA that can be used by companies to help communicate the value of the process to their end-users. These materials include:

  • A quick-and-easy definition: Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer of protection beyond your password.  It significantly decreases the risk of a hacker accessing your online accounts by combining your password (something you know) with a second factor, like your mobile phone (something you have).
  • A short video:

Help Them Help You Help Them

TeleSign’s 2016 Consumer Account Security Report found that 55% of consumers place the onus on businesses as the party primarily responsible for providing the security of their online and mobile accounts. The report also found that 82% of consumers are concerned about online security with 88% concerned specifically about being hacked.

They need and want 2FA, but need to be properly informed on how it works—and that providing their phone number is fundamental to enabling it to protect them. Once this education is provided, both conversions and security will increase for your business.


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