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I was updating my company 401(k) information last week, and the website wanted me to provide my cellphone number. It didn’t say why, nor did it explain how it would use that information. A conference I signed up for also wanted my cellphone number, again with no explanation or context.

In both cases, I left the field blank, but it’s getting harder to do so these days, as more and more services require a cellphone number, ostensibly to text confirmations such as for second-factor authentication or call if suspicious activity is detected on your account. Fortunately, it is illegal for businesses to require customers to furnish a cellphone number to complete an order, notes Federal Trade Commission analyst Bikram Bandy. But some companies may still make the cell number a required field in their forms.

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