Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Author: Elaine Harrison-Neukirch
Recently, I listed some items for sale on Facebook Marketplace. I received a message in Facebook messenger asking if the item was still available. I was also asked for my phone number. I don’t normally give out my number but I did in this particular instance.
Shortly after, I received a text from Google voice containing a code.
Then the “potential buyer” texted and told me they needed that code to verify my number was real.
This raised my suspicions. I do not use Google Voice. It is not required to complete a sale on Facebook Marketplace. The second text convinced me that this was a smishing (phishing via sms text) attempt. I did not respond to this person or text the code.
This interaction led me to do some research on the Google Voice Scam.
What is a Google Voice Scam?
The scammer feigns interest in something being sold in a public forum. They acquire your phone number then create a fake Google Voice account using your name and phone number. The scammer then asks you for the code to “verify” that you are legit.
Once they get your verification code, they can then use your number through Google Voice to scam additional people or cause other types of havoc.
How can you get your number back?
If you have fallen victim to this scam, there is a way reclaim your number. Google support has a Knowledge Base article with instructions here.
There is additional information about this scam in an article published by the Identity Theft Resource Center.
As with all text verification methods, DO NOT share them with others. This is how scammers begin to take over your accounts and use them for their means. I made the mistake of giving my phone number out on social media. I admit that I know better. I was caught at a time of weakness! Keep all transactions on social media to that platform's messaging app. DO NOT click on any links sent via messaging or give out any private information.
About the Author: Elaine Harrison-Neukirch has over 10 years of experience in cyber security working in the healthcare and financial services industries. She currently runs the customer support program at SCYTHE. Elaine advocates for Women in Cybersecurity; she is a member of both Women in Cybersecurity and Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu. She is also Education Lead for CSNP.