Google Voice Scams – Don’t be left speechless

Nir Koren Jul 04, 2022 10 min read

Oh no! Felix your cat has gone missing. Innocently and in your despair, you post a cute photo of him frolicking in the sunshine, along with your phone number, hoping that someone will come across the cat and call you to tell you of his whereabouts. Ping! You get a text from someone who says that they have indeed found your furry feline friend.

What a relief.

You’ve had enough of your old kitchen table and chairs. You’re dreaming of buying a new set with the money you hope to get for the old one. You take a great photo of it, and post it in an ad on Craigslist, along with your phone number. Swoosh! In comes a mail from someone saying that your table would look just fantastic in their kitchen! It’s your lucky day!

Or is it?

That good Samaritan that found your cat, or that lucky random kitchen table buyer tells you that there are a lot of scammers around and they are worried about becoming a victim themselves. See, they’ve heard about fake online listings and want to be sure that you are indeed a real person and not a bot. Or they need to verify that you are indeed Felix’s owner. They tell you that they’ll send you a Google authentication code in the form of a voice call or text message and ask you to repeat the number back to them, to prove you are real.

Fair enough, right? Wrong.

The scam
What’s actually going on here is that the scammer is setting up a Google Voice Account in your name. They then steal your identity via your voice and go on to carry out further scams by pretending to be you, hiding their true identity from the law.

There are now so many scammers onto the Google Voice scam — that even the FBI was moved to issue a warning about them.

Likewise, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) , a non-profit organization established to empower and guide consumers, victims, businesses, and government to minimize risk and mitigate the impact of identity compromise and crime saw a massive jump in Google Voice scams in 2021.

“Of the 1,824 total victim cases received in August 2021, 49% of them were Google Voice scams. This trend continued throughout the rest of 2021, and in November, 70% of the scams reported to the ITRC regarded Google Voice.”

 Identity Theft Resource Center

 So, now that you’re in the know about this trending scam, the burning question is, what can you do to avoid it? Here are a few pointers:

Three easy steps to avoid being a victim of a Google Voice Scam

  1. Think before you share private information: Selling? Buying? Someone asks you to share a Google verification code with them. Don’t do it!
  2. Choose a reliable platform: Only buy and sell online through established platforms like eBay and Etsy that offer identification verification, secure payment, and customer service.
  3. Verify yourself first: If you can, do business in person and make sure the funds you are receiving are verified.

Having said that, if you have already been unlucky enough to have been scammed, fear not!

Been scammed? Don’t worry!
Anyone can be a victim of a Google Voice Scam. But luckily you can reclaim your number. Watch this Google Voice recovery video on how to do it. You can also find out how to reclaim your account at the Google Voice Help Center.