Are you selling items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist? Then watch for this scam!

The Setup

A potential buyer contacts you and asks for your cellphone number. Once you share your contact info, a text comes in from Google Voice. It contains a 6-digit verification code, and your would-be buyer quickly asks to know what that code is. The verification message says NOT share that code with anyone, but the buyer will insist it is to verify your identity and legitimacy.

The Scam

The person contacting you is trying to create a new Google Voice number. But Google requires that the new number be attached to an existing US phone number. The verification code is the last step in creating that Google Voice number, and will bind the Google Voice number to your phone number.

What Use is a Google Voice Number?

The potential buyer is actually a crook, looking to use a Google Voice number in his/her scams. Essentially, the bad guy gets a brand-new phone number (that won’t be on any spam lists) that can be used anywhere in the world, on any computer or mobile device. It’s kind of like buying a burner phone, except with Google Voice, there’s no physical phone and the new number is free. It’s a burner number, to be used, abused and discarded.

The Fallout

Who knows what scams or harassment will be carried out over the new number. But it will be very easy for the criminal to later stop using the number and cover their tracks. And as they scamper off without a trace, you might not be in the clear. If the authorities investigate illegal activity on the Google Voice number, they may track down the owner of the linked phone number. That would be you, if you were duped into giving over the verification code!

It gets even worse if you’re already using Google Voice. If you fall for this scam on your Google Voice number, the scammer may succeed in stealing your phone number from you!

Recovery Methods

If your cell number was used and linked to an unwanted Google Voice number, there is a complicated process to follow to unlink your number. Check out this forum for the steps, and feel free to contact BlueScreen Computer if you need extra assistance.

If someone stole your Google Voice number from you, you’ll want to act quickly to reclaim your Google Voice.

Final Advice

When selling goods online, be choosy about where you give out your mobile number. And never share verification codes that come to your phone or email. When a verification message says Don’t Share This Code, they mean it!