United Online Offers Private Phone Numbers

Woodland Hills-based United Online is launching a new, voice mailbox and phone forwarding service, starting in June, the company said yesterday. United Online said that it is launching PrivatePhone, a new service that allows customers to have a free phone number and voicemail, based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. The new VoIP service allows customers to sign up for their own phone numbers in the area code of their choice, and allows customers to check their messages by phone or over the Internet. The firm also said that it would offer call forwarding services for a fee. The firm is marketing the service as a way to provide a phone number without exposing personal information. The move puts the company into competition with companies like Santa Barbara-based Callwave, which offers a similar, VoIP-based call screening and message service. United Online operates NetZero, Juno, Classmates, and MyPoints.