Yes, without our even realising it, scores of users unknown to us could have access to the data stored in our smartphones. It happens because of social networking, integration of networks, syncing of contacts and the apps installed, writes Sudhish Kamath, alerting us to how our mobile phone numbers might not be private anymore

Gone are the days of mystery when a ringing phone had to be answered because that was the only way you would know who was calling. And with caller ID, half of that mystery disappeared. You at least knew which number was trying to reach you.

Today, thanks to social networks, integration between social networks, syncing of contacts and lack of awareness among users on privacy policies, it is possible that your smartphone has shared all your contacts with entire networks of users. Just because you decided to sync your phone contacts with Facebook and/or Whatsapp.

Try this: The next time you get a missed call from a mobile number, save it on your smartphone contacts (say as Mystery Caller). Next, go to Whatsapp and refresh your contacts. Chances are that Whatsapp would have retrieved Mystery Caller’s profile photo for you (ONLY if your Mystery Caller uses Whatsapp himself). Whatsapp would also tell you when the Mystery Caller was last seen texting or checking his/her messages.

Non-intrusive

With the increasing popularity and usage of Whatsapp for non-intrusive communication that also guarantees a response (unless the receiver wants to avoid you) thanks to the transparency offered by Whatsapp in letting you know that the person at the other end “is typing” a message for you. Or if the person has read your message. (A double tick next to your message means the person has got your text waiting to be read when he next sees the phone).

You no longer need to know the phone number if you have the person on your Facebook or Gmail, thanks to Facebook Messenger or GTalk apps on your phone. Sending a text over FB or GTalk enables you to reach the person you have on your list instantly through text.

But the new app on the block that is revolutionising the way people answer phones around the world is TrueCaller that tells you who is calling, from which state, using what network... EVEN if you don't have that caller listed anywhere in your phone or social networks!

Of course, these are early days for TrueCaller and not every number is in their database.

TrueCaller already has over 960 million numbers from around the world (and counting) and the minute you install it in your phone, you not only add to it but let it access your phone contacts that it syncs with contacts in its database.

What this also means is that your number is not private anymore either. The biggest casualty of this trend are people in the public domain — celebrities.