Cell phone numbers becoming as sensitive as your Social Security number

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It's the 10 digit code that's attached to who you are, but it's a lifeline you may be willing to give it out freely. This can especially be the case when you’re trying to get coupons and discounts during the holiday shopping season. But now privacy experts say your cell phone number could be as sensitive as your Social Security number.

Katherine Horn says she gives her number willingly in order to get discounts.

"I do, yea I do because of the loyalty card thing sure," shopper Katherine Horn said.

But a forensic accountant tells us you should think twice about giving up your phone number.

"They're also building a database on you. They want to know as much about you as possible," Michael Hathaway said.

We went to forensic accountant Michael Hathaway to find out just how much of our private information is connected to our cell phone number. Unlike your Social Security number, your cell phone number is not personally identifiable information so it's not legally regulated, meaning businesses can share data the collect on you.

"I would not give my own phone number. When they ask for my date of birth I tell them just a random date of birth. I would never give anybody any of my PII there's no reason they need this information," Hathaway said.

The cell phone number is a gateway to finding more of your private info. Although stores don't have the same access to databases as private investigators it just shows how much personal information is connected to your cell phone. So the next time you're asked to give your phone number, don't.

"How badly do you want the discounts? Is the discount good enough that you actually give up your identity to some degree and let them build a profile on you," Hathaway said.

He adds you should decline giving your number and your email. And another key identifier is your birthday on social media. And although you like the birthday shout outs on Facebook, he says you should never make that information public.