Scammers target people in a variety of ways. The Google Voice verification code scam is just the latest in a long line of potential issues that businesses and individuals need to look out for.
Google verification codes have quickly become top targets for many scammers because they can be used to hijack phone numbers and commit various crimes. To protect yourself and your Google Voice account, here’s an explanation of this scam and tips for avoiding or overcoming it.
What is the Google Voice verification code scam?
People targeted by the Google Voice verification code scam are generally those that post things for sale online or make online listings that include their phone numbers. Scammers then reach out pretending to be interested, before hesitating and asking you to verify your identity. They send a Google voice verification code to your phone number and ask for the code.
Once this code is provided, scammers can use it to create a Google Voice account with your phone number. So they can make calls and send text messages from your number to scam others. They may even use your number and other personal information to gain access to your online accounts.
How does the Google Voice scam work?
If you’re not sure what the Google Voice scam is or how it works, here’s a step-by-step list of how it generally works:
Scammers respond to online listings: Scammers generally pretend to be interested buyers of products or services listed online.
They hesitate and ask for verification: They may then seem hesitant and want you to verify your identity.
They send a verification code to your phone number: They’ll suggest that they’ll complete the purchase if you can send them a verification code that Google Voice automatically sends to your phone number.
They create a Google Voice account with your number: If you text or tell them this number, they can then use it to create a Google Voice account under your number. This allows them to make calls and texts from your number using a computer.
How to Avoid the Google Voice Verification Scam
To avoid the Google voice verification code scam, take these tips into account:
Use caution when creating public listings: Often, scammers target people who create online listings selling items or looking for lost pets. If you create such listings, use caution when communicating with those who respond, and avoid giving any personal information to people you don’t know personally.
Keep your phone numbers private: It’s often possible to communicate with people through online marketplaces or messaging apps instead of with your personal phone number. Avoid sharing your number if it isn’t absolutely necessary since scammers can’t create a Google Voice account without one.
Don’t share your Google Voice code with anyone: If scammers contact you and send you a Google Voice verification code text message, avoid sharing the code with them. They can’t set up an account under your phone number without it.
Report potential fraud: If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission through their website: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Google Voice Code Scam Fix Process
If you’ve already fallen victim to the Google Voice scam, here are some steps to take to reclaim your number and your Google Voice account:
Link your number using Google Voice: Head to voice.google.com and go to Settings under your account. You’ll find a section that says “linked numbers.” If yours isn’t already linked to your account, click “add new number” and enter the number that has been claimed by scammers.
Verify your number: You’ll then be directed to send a code to your phone number. Check your text messages and then enter the code provided in your Google Voice account. Avoid giving this code to anyone else.
Reclaim your phone number: Once you verify your number using the code provided, you’ll be directed to a link where you can claim the number. If it’s already in use by another account, Google will verify one final time that you want to gain control of the number and remove it from other accounts. Once you link the number to your own Google Voice account, it will no longer be connected to the scammer’s account.
Is Google Voice verification a scam?
Google Voice verification in and of itself is not a scam — as long as you’re the one who requested the code to sign up for an account using your phone number. Google Voice sends a text message with a verification code to ensure that only the phone number’s actual owner can use the account.
However, if you receive a Google Voice verification code that you didn’t request, or if someone else is asking you to send them your code, this is likely part of a scam. Scammers can use this code to set up a Google Voice account with your number, essentially hijacking your phone number to trick others or access your personal information. For more on what to do if you get scammed, read the steps above.
Can someone hack your phone with a Google Voice verification code?
Scammers can use a Google Voice verification code to hijack your phone number. This doesn’t give them access to all the features of your phone. For example, they shouldn’t be able to automatically access all of your apps. However, they can set up forwarding features to access two-factor authentication links and then request access to various accounts.
When they receive those codes to the Google Voice account set up under your phone number, they can hack into your accounts and compromise your personal information.
What can a scammer do with your Google Voice number?
Scammers can use a Google Voice account under your phone number to commit various crimes while concealing their identity. For example, they may scam other individuals by calling or texting them using your phone number.
They could also forward messages sent to your phone number to the Google Voice account, allowing them to access two-factor authentication codes that can give them access to your personal information. For example, they may try to gain access to your email, bank accounts, or social media platforms.
Why did you get a Google Voice verification code?
Google sends a Google Voice verification code to your phone number to verify your identity when you attempt to set up a new Google Voice account. Once you receive the code, you simply enter it when prompted by Google Voice, and you’ll be able to start using your phone number online.
However, if you received a Google Voice verification code and you didn’t try to set up an account, this likely means that a scammer is trying to create an account using your number. If they’re successful, they’ll be able to make calls and texts using your phone number to disclose their identity while committing various crimes.
Luckily, they shouldn’t be able to complete the process without the verification code, so avoid sharing this number with anyone. In most cases, scammers contact people through online ads or listings and then request this code as a way to verify your identity. This is a common scam.
What happens if you give someone your Google Voice code?
If you give someone else your Google Voice verification code, they can set up a new account using your phone number. This essentially allows them to make calls and text messages from your phone number using a computer.
They may use your number to scam other people while concealing their identity. Or they could forward messages sent to your number to the Google Voice account, allowing them to gain access to various accounts by requesting password reset links or two-factor authentication codes. If you have already given this code to another individual, follow the steps listed above to reclaim your phone number under your own Google Voice account so they lose access to your phone number.
Can you remove a scam code from your Google Voice account?
Yes, it is possible to reclaim your phone number in your own Google Voice account, thus removing the ability for scammers to continue using your phone number under the account they created with your Google Voice verification code.
To complete this process, go to voice.google.com and then go to “Settings” and “Linked numbers.” Click “New linked number” and enter the phone number that has been hijacked by scammers. Google will then prompt you to send a new code via text or voice call. When they provide this six-digit code, enter it into Google Voice and confirm that you want to link the number to your own account.
If the number is being used by another account, which is often the case when you’ve provided your Google verification code to other users, Google will send one final prompt asking you to confirm that you want to link this number to your new account. Once you complete this step, the previous account that had access to your phone number will no longer be able to use it. You can also learn how to report a scam at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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This article, “The Google Voice Verification Code Scam: What You Need to Know” was first published on Small Business Trends
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