Google Voice Code Scam - What is it and what can you do?

Nov 3, 2022

Selling personal items such as furniture, household goods and clothing is now a way of life for many, listing items on Facebook Marketplace and other buy and sell groups. A trending scam has potential buyers making immediate contact with you, saying they want to meet right away to purchase your item.  They ask for your phone number, wanting to text you so you can reply with a verification code with the pretense of confirming that YOU are legitimate. While you may think this is innocent, here’s what’s happening when you provide your phone number:  the potential buyer texts your number from a Google app that prompts you to enter a 6-digit code. This code gives Google your permission to the scammer, linking your phone number to their account. Don’t give it out!  If you do, they can cause all sorts of trouble with their new number (yours!) such as going back online, posing as you and selling items fraudulently to other unsuspecting purchasers. Google Voice allows the scammers to use the number to make calls or send text messages from a web browser or mobile device, linking your phone number to their future illegal transactions. They can potentially contact Facebook asking for a password reset and use that code to reset your password. From there, they can gain access to your email, payment information, friends, etc. (you can check to see if your credit card information is listed on Facebook by going to settings, Facebook Pay). If this happens, they can block you and steal your personal information.

There is also a trend with scammers preying on people with lost pets, pretending to be someone that has found your beloved friend. They will demand proof that you are really the one who has lost their pet and ask for that same verification code.

If you have unwittingly given this code up, you can add it back. Here’s how:  Reclaim your voice number 



Always take time to ask questions and think it through
Never share a Google verification code
Don’t give your cell phone number out, especially to someone you haven’t initiated a conversation with. It’s best to keep conversations on the sales platform
Trust your gut. Don’t rush into something that doesn’t seem legit
Don’t use non-traditional payment methods (gift cards, crypto, money orders etc.)
Set up in-person meets with buyers in a safe location
Monitor your online accounts for suspicious activity