I set up my google voice number to forward to my AT&T number, but when I get texts from some people who are in my contact list, the text appears to come from phone numbers I don't recognize. The text message itself will be prefaced by the phone number the text is coming from, but even though that number is in my contact list, the message does not offer me the name of the person. I have an iPhone 4 and I'm running iOS 6.1. Any help is appreciated.

4 Answers 4


This is, unfortunately, a limitation of Google Voice. Google Voice cannot spoof your friends' numbers, so it has to send texts from its own numbers. However, each of your contacts will have a unique number from which Voice will send you texts, so you can send messages to those numbers and reply to them and it will reach your friends.

There are two ways around this. You can use the Google Voice app. Messages will come through your data plan and not your SMS plan, and they'll show up with the right names and everything. Alternatively, you can add the numbers Google uses as the "from" address as another number in your iPhone contacts. The number will still work to reach them, and the messages will appear to come from your Google Voice number.

  • THIS IS NOT A LIMITATION OF GOOGLE VOICE. It is an isolated issue that happens only to some people, not to other people. I have checked with multiple other GV users with iPhones and tested it with them: when I send a text message to their GV number that gets forwarded to the iPhone Messages app, it shows up with my correct number, NOT a GV direct access number.
    – gesher
    May 17, 2013 at 0:04
  • Are you sending from your own GV number? Because in that case, Google does own your number, and can forward it on to the destination with your GV number and not a forwarding number.
    – cablesm
    May 17, 2013 at 1:26
  • 1
    Hey, thanks for asking for clarification. This issue is not about sending, it's about receiving. I can use SMS GV Extension when sending to ensure that other people see my correct GV number when they receive a text message from me; but what I'm trying to fix is what I see in my Messages app when I get a text message from someone else to my GV number.
    – gesher
    May 17, 2013 at 2:26
  • cablesm is mostly correct, although I would add that some people consider this a great feature rather than a limitation, because it gives you a "shortcut" number for each person. You can add those numbers to your address book, then use them in the Phone app to make calls too. But it is true that when GV forwards an incoming text to your cellphone, it cannot spoof the sender's real number unless the sender is using GV also.
    – Elliott
    May 17, 2013 at 8:30

As google has shown in this link, this is a normal feature of Voice.

You have your Voice account set up to forward messages to your phone (from google). Unless you have a phone number at Google Voice, you will receive the messages from one of the random phone numbers that Google owns.

It is stated many times on the net that if you get the Google Voice app, it will show you the actual number of the sender; rather than the number assigned to forward the messages to your phone. This should eliminate the issue.


The problem is not a normal feature of Google Voice (nobody else has ever experienced it, to my knowledge, except the original poster of this question). It was not caused by Google Voice settings. It was not caused by Google Voice iOS app. It was not caused by Messages app. It was not caused by SMS GV Extension. It WAS caused by Google Contacts sync. I fixed the problem simply by deactivating Google Contacts sync on my iPhone and then reactivating it a minute later.

Please stop editing this answer to remove the important explanatory material in the blog post I wrote about the issue. You are not helping anyone by hiding this information.

  • Those edits were unnecessary and, in any case, far too aggressive. Why don't you edit the wrong answer that has all the upvotes instead?
    – gesher
    May 19, 2013 at 18:15
  • Sorry if the edit seemed too aggressive to you, but please keep in mind that answers should focus on directly answering the question and not on discussing other answers. If you do not agree with answers given by others, please use the means provided by the site (downvote and/or leaving a comment at the respective answer) to give feedback.
    – nohillside
    May 20, 2013 at 4:58
  • Nevertheless you put a lot of effort into your analysis before coming to a conclusion, something I consider worth keeping on the site. May I ask you to edit the answer yourself and trim it down to the facts relevant for the situation?
    – nohillside
    May 20, 2013 at 5:00
  • I can't downvote other answers or comment on them because I don't have any reputation points left, because I used them all to create the bounty, which attracted people to come and hastily write wrong answers in the first place.
    – gesher
    May 20, 2013 at 15:03
  • Nevertheless please restrict your answer to the facts and don't use it to comment other answers. Bounty will go to the accepted answer (or the one with the most upvotes) anyway.
    – nohillside
    May 20, 2013 at 16:05

The reason the texts come from a strange number is so that replies will go back through google and appear to come from your google voice number. If the texts came from the real users phone number, when you sms'ed back, it would be from your iPhone's phone number, and not from your GV number on their side.


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