What is Surfshark's Alternative ID

Illustration of a hand holding an ID card, that says "Alt ID" on it
(Image credit: Surfshark)

With data breaches becoming an everyday occurrence in today’s worrying cybersecurity landscape, there’s no such thing as “too cautious” when it comes to how you do what you do online. One of the best ways to keep your personal data private and away from the hands of malicious actors is to use an online persona different from your real one.

Surfshark, one of the best VPN services, offers a product called Alternative ID that does exactly that, giving users an alternative fictitious identity and email address and keeping their true identity under wraps. This can protect you from giving away your real details for one-time signups while also safeguarding you against spam and phishing emails. 

There’s also Alternative Number, which can further enhance your privacy by allowing you to use a fake number and receive calls and messages anonymously. In this article, I’ll be diving into the details of these features, what they have to offer, and how to get started.


Surfshark features as my number one cheap VPN, and is a very powerful bit of kit. Alternative ID is an excellent addition to what's already a very capable VPN. Prices start at around $2.19 per month, and you can try it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Alternative ID

As the name suggests, Surfshark’s Alternative ID generates an entirely new identity, or online persona, for you, including a real-looking full name, gender, age, a home address, as well as an email address corresponding to that identity.

With Alternative ID, you will be able to minimize your online footprint and improve your privacy, and sign up on websites or subscribe to newsletters without worrying about your personal data being stolen, as you won’t be exposing who you really are.

Surfshark Alternative ID

(Image credit: Surfshark)

The best part is that the Alternative ID product comes included with all Surfshark plans (Starter, One, and One+), and setting it up is a breeze, too. All you have to do is click on the Alternative ID tab on the Surfshark browser extension or app and press “Create.”

It will then give you two options to choose from: you can either have Surfshark auto-generate all of the details, or you can edit them manually.

Create your Surfshark Alt ID

(Image credit: Future)

If you choose the first option i.e. auto-generate, rest assured that you will be shown a preview of the new identity; you will also have the option to press “Regenerate” as many times as you want until you arrive at one that resonates with you. 

Surfshark Alt ID preview

(Image credit: Future)

For the last part, you’ll have to enter your real email address that you’d like to link to your Alt email. This will then forward all the emails sent to your fake email to your linked email address’s spam folder. Of course, the sender will have no clue what your real email address is.

It’s well worth noting that you can also pause your Alt email from forwarding any emails to your real email inbox, which comes in handy when your one-off use case is complete and you no longer require the account you made for it. Or, you can simply delete your Alt ID and create a new one whenever the need arises. The entire process is just so simple.

Alternative Number

A Surfshark alternative phone number is a virtual number you can use in place of your real one, thereby safeguarding it from online threats. It works just like any phone number, allowing you to receive calls and messages to the Surfshark app, but without having to share your personal data.

Your real phone number can be added to databases or leaked, which would then expose you to tons of spam calls and messages, and even scams and other types of fraudulent schemes. All such concerns can be put to rest with an Alt number.

Surfshark Alternative Number

(Image credit: Surfshark)

A real highlight is that a Surfshark alternative number works everywhere around the globe. However, the provider only offers USA numbers right now, plus you cannot make calls from your Alt number, nor does it support one-time passcodes. What's more, text messages have a limited reply capability. 

All things aside, the fact remains that this is a fairly new feature, so we can expect advancements and upgrades in the near future. However, a striking point is that unlike Alternative ID that’s available with all Surfshark plans, an Alt number costs extra ($5.00 a month on top of your active Surfshark subscription).

Next up, setting up your Alt number is a straightforward process involving just a few steps. We’re using the Surfshark mobile app for this illustration, but it’s very similar everywhere else, too.

Head to the “Alternative ID” tab on the Surfshark app and create an Alt ID by following the steps mentioned in the above section. Only when you have an active Alt ID can you generate an Alt number.

Once your Alt ID is set up, click on “Upgrade” to add Alt number to your active plan or “Start” if you’ve already purchased it. Next, allow the Surfshark app access to your phone's microphone, notifications, and contact list.

That’s all there is to it! Your Alt number is now active, and you will be able to see all received messages in the Alt ID Phone tab. Next, when you receive a call to your Alt number, it will be displayed as a regular call to your mobile device, just with “Surfshark app” displayed under the contact name or number.

Surfshark Alt number incoming call on the VPN app

(Image credit: Surfshark)

Why should you use Alternative ID

Alternative ID can significantly boost your privacy, as it will prevent your real name, email, and address from falling into the hands of malicious actors on public marketplaces or forums. If you wish to access a sketchy website that requires a login, Alternative ID will allow you to do so without putting any of your real data at risk.

Next, online shopping sites usually require your email to be able to send you information about live deals or new product launches. However, these can get spammy real fast. By signing up with your Alt email instead, you can save yourself from such annoyance. Furthermore, this can also protect you against phishing attempts via emails.

At the same time, note that you shouldn’t use Alternative ID with official or trustworthy establishments that require your real details. These include government authorities, educational institutions, and banks.

Krishi Chowdhary

Krishi is a VPN writer covering buying guides, how-to's, and other cybersecurity content here at Tom's Guide. His expertise lies in reviewing products and software, from VPNs, online browsers, and antivirus solutions to smartphones and laptops. As a tech fanatic, Krishi also loves writing about the latest happenings in the world of cybersecurity, AI, and software.