Scammers are constantly figuring out crafty ways to access your personal information. While you might be aware of many common tricks that cybercriminals try to pull, some scams aren’t very well known and can be tough to spot. A recent scam involving the Google Voice service could leave your personal information vulnerable if you’re not careful.
Google Voice is a useful service that generates a virtual phone number to send and receive calls and texts. Each Google Voice number must be linked to an actual phone number, so usage and activity are tied to the specific user. In a recent scam, cybercriminals use existing phone numbers to create a Google Voice number and conduct other phone scams or gain access to Google accounts.
To pull off this scam, criminals target places where phone numbers are publicly shared, such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. For example, a scammer will see a seller’s phone number on a listing for a car. They then contact the seller under the guise of being interested in buying the car, but they will ask the seller to send a Google authentication code to verify they are a real person.
In reality, this code allows the scammer to link a Google Voice number with the seller’s actual phone number and possibly access other accounts and information. This scam is especially dangerous because it seems so logical, and any reasonable person could be fooled. It is also becoming more widespread — one of our own team members recently encountered this scam!
What can you do to prevent your phone number from being linked to a phony account? First — it is best to avoid publicly providing your phone number if you can help it. Be cautious when providing your phone number to someone you don’t know. Second, you should never give another person any authentication code you receive. These codes should only be used between you and the service or company that generates them, and will usually only be provided to a webpage or an app rather than to a real person.
With scams getting trickier to spot, it is important to stay vigilant and stay aware when using the Internet. You can read more about ways to help you stay safe online by clicking here.