Are you selling items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist? Then watch out for the Google Voice Verification 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.

google voice verification scam

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 for free (that won’t be on any spam lists). Similar to buying a burner phone, the new Google Voice phone number is a major tool in a scammer’s arsenal. S/he will use it, abuse it and then discard it.

The Fallout

The new number will help the scammer carry out untold schemes and crimes. And 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!

PS: in 2023, I now hear that this scam may target people seeking their lost pets. Scammers seek out anxious pet owners, claiming they have their missing animals. And they press the victim to give them a texted Google Voice code, before cooperating with returning the pet. They, of course, do not have the pet, and are simply taking advantage of people in their time of need.