The Google Voice Scam

It's been slow for corporate email scams for a bit. Unfortunately, other scams have been stepping up their game. This scam is commonly known as the "Google Voice Scam". It's extremely common on marketplace sites like Facebook, NextDoor, and Craigslist.

The Scam

Identifying Traits

  • Name may not match the gender of the picture used.

  • Broken English and incorrect syntax.

  • No interest in negotiating cost.

  • Often copies the post title exactly rather than re-writing it when contacting the seller.

What It Does

The Google Voice Scam differs from most scams in that the scammer isn't trying to get money or credentials from you. They actually want your phone number. Google Voice is an amazing service that allows you to make and receive calls and texts. You don't need a physical phone and it's free. This is great when you want to give a phone number to someone but you don't want them to know your actual phone number. A lot of one-person businesses use this service so they can protect their privacy and not get calls in the middle of the night.

When you sign up for a Google Voice number you can request a new phone number or assign your existing phone number to it. If you assign your existing number to it, it'll text you a six digit code (example: 123456) to confirm you own that phone number. This is where the scam comes in. The scammer will pretend they want whatever you're selling and ask you to verify you're not a scammer. In reality, they're signing up for Google Voice using your phone number and confirming the phone number by getting you to send them the code.

If you do provide the scammer this code you likely won't notice anything unusual. Calls can still be made fine but you may not receive texts sometimes. The scammer doesn't want you to notice anything has changed as they'll be using your phone number on Google Voice to scam other people. This is essentially a scam escalation. A smaller scam to get a phone number so they can perform financial scams like the cartel or IRS scam on other people. If someone reports the scam and provides the phone number, it comes back to you rather than the scammer and you're left repairing the damage.

If this does happen to you, Google provides a way to reclaim your number from the scammer. The guide isĀ here.

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