Just in Time for the Holidays, a New Scam to Watch Out For
The holidays are a time to reflect, gather, and celebrate – to give thanks for the opportunities we’ve been given, and look ahead to what may be next in store. With all of the welcome distractions that this time of year provides, scammers typically up their game and try to take advantage people who may take their eye off the ball, so to speak, when it comes to safeguarding their finances.
The following article – “The Google Voice Scam: How This Verification Code Scam Works and How to Avoid It,” by Alvaro Puig of the Federal Trade Commission – lays out a new scam that’s increasingly being run, and how to stop it in its tracks.
The Google Voice Scam: How This Verification Code Scam Works and How to Avoid It
If there’s one constant among scammers, it’s that they’re always coming up with new schemes, like the Google Voice verification scam. Have you heard about it? Here’s how it works.
Scammers target people who post things for sale on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. They also prey on people who post looking for help finding their lost pet.
The scammers contact you and say they want to buy the item you’re selling — or that they found your pet. But before they commit to buying your item, or returning your pet, they feign hesitation. They might say they’ve heard about fake online listings and want to verify that you’re a real person. Or they might say they want to verify that you’re the pet’s true owner.
They send you a text message with a Google Voice verification code and ask you for that code. If you give them the verification code, they’ll try to use it to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number. (Google Voice gives you a phone number that you can use to make calls or send text messages from a web browser or a mobile device.)
So, what’s the harm? The scammer might use that number to rip off other people and conceal their identity. Sometimes these scammers are after a Google Voice verification code and other information about you. If they get enough of your information, they could pretend to be you to access your accounts or open new accounts in your name.
If you gave someone a Google Voice verification code follow these steps from Google to reclaim your number.
No matter what the story is, don’t share your Google Voice verification code — or any verification code — with someone if you didn’t contact them first. That’s a scam, every time. Report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.