Internet, Networking, & Security Antivirus The Google Voice Verification Code Scam: How to Protect Yourself Stop the scammer and take back your mobile phone number By Brad Stephenson Freelance Contributor Brad Stephenson is a freelance tech and geek culture writer with 12+ years' experience. He writes about Windows 10, Xbox One, and cryptocurrency. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Brad Stephenson Updated December 13, 2019 Antivirus Browsers Cloud Services Error Messages Home Networking 5G Antivirus VPN Web Development Around the Web View More Tweet Share Email The Google Voice code scam is a strategy used by individuals and groups to create new Google Voice accounts, and thus new phone numbers, by using a strangers’ phone. The victim in this verification code scam isn’t placed in any danger or put at risk of identity theft or financial loss as is usually the case in many other phone scams. What Is the Google Voice Verification Code Scam? Google Voice is a free service provided by Google that allows anyone in the United States to create an additional phone number for themselves. This new phone number can make free domestic calls, cheaper international calls, and features many of the same benefits as a traditional mobile number such as voicemail and spam call filter settings. To create a Google Voice account, though, you need an existing phone number and must provide it during the setup process. This is mostly done for identity verification but you can also be used to link your new Google Voice number to your existing number and forward all calls and messages to it. Ridofranz/iStocl/GettyImagesPlus The free nature of Google Voice phone numbers is very attractive to phone scammers who need new numbers to use in their cons. Fortunately, the phone number requirement during setup prevents scammers from creating as many Google Voice accounts as they want. To get around this limitation, scammers attempt to trick numerous victims into unknowingly linking their phone numbers to new Google Voice accounts they’re trying to create. How Does the Google Voice Verification Code Scam Work? The Google Voice verification code scam is shockingly simple and begins with the scammer beginning the Google Voice account creation process. Once they get to the step where they need to link their new account to a phone number, they call or text a victim they’ve found previously, and convince them they need to send them a code to confirm that they’re a real person. The Google Voice verification code scam doesn’t share any personal data or phone information with the scammer. This is a relatively low level scam that just uses strangers’ phones to create new accounts. The scammer does not gain access to anything on your phone and can’t make calls or texts from your phone number. In reality, the scammer is entering their phone number into the Google Voice account setup which sends a verification code to the victim. The victim then sends this code to the scammer who uses it to finish the account setup and link it to the victim’s phone. The scammer can then use their new Google Voice account to call or text other potential victims in future scams via the Google Voice apps. How Do the Google Voice Verification Code Scammers Find Victims? These Google Voice scammers usually find their victims in online auction websites that require communication between sellers and buyers such as Craigslist or eBay. The scammer will send a seller a direct message asking them to confirm that they’re real and, ironically, not a scammer by sending them back a verification code that they’ll text them. The victim then receives the Google Voice verification text and, due to the service’s name, assumes that this is a Google service for verifying peoples’ voices or identity. Scammers can use a similar strategy on dating apps like Grindr and Tinder where they match with other users and ask them to confirm that they’re not a bot by sending them a code. How Do I Avoid Getting Involved in This Scam? To avoid falling for the Google Voice verification code scam, simply delete the verification text when you get it and report the scammer’s account to the platform they found you on. For example, if they contacted you on Tinder, report their profile from within the Tinder app. Do not block the phone number that sent you the verification text as this is an official Google number that may be used to send you important verification messages or calls in the future. I’m Already a Victim. What Should I Do? If you’ve been tricked into giving a phone scammer a Google Voice verification code, you don’t need to worry as all this has really done is assist them in setting up an account. The scammer hasn’t gained access to any of your personal data and hasn’t gotten any control over your phone’s functions or apps. It’s also unlikely that you will land in any trouble either as long as you disconnect your number from their newly created Google Voice account as soon as you can. To do this, simply log into your Google Voice account on the Google Voice website or app, navigate to Settings, and select the + symbol. Enter your phone number into the field and then type in the new verification code that will have been sent to your phone. Your phone number will now be linked to your Google Voice account and disconnected from the scammer’s. How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for the Google Voice Verification Code Scam? The best way to avoid being the target of such phone scams is to be careful with who can see your phone number online and to be very suspicious of strangers who call or text you. You may want to set your contact information on websites and social media profiles to private and make sure to delete any random verification emails or texts that you receive.