If you’ve ever gotten an angry phone call from someone who says your number was involved in a scam, but you know with certainty it wasn’t, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
A new scam involves people taking advantage of folks trying to get rid of household items on sites like Craigslist. In one instance, a seller posted baby equipment that he didn’t need any longer. Soon, he got a request from a buyer who was very interested.
That buyer agreed to pay cash… but only if the seller would allow him to text a Google code to the telephone number listed in the ad.
Maybe you can see where this is going…
After giving the verification code to the buyer as directed, the buyer then used that code (and the phone number posted in the ad) to get their own free Google phone number associated with that account.
At that point, the “buyer” could use the new number for all sorts of illegal activities. Now that is a situation you absolutely want to avoid.
Of course, when you get a text from a site like Google with a six-digit verification code, you should never share it with anyone under any circumstances. Doing so will go a long way towards allowing you to avoid this type of situation altogether.
How to Take Back Control of Your Number
If you do unfortunately fall victim to this Google phone scam, the most important thing you need to do is not panic. There is a step that you can take to regain control over your number from the scammers – you just need to follow a very specific process while you do so.
1. Navigate to https://voice.google.com/about in your Web browser. If you don’t already have one, select the option labeled “For Personal Use” to set up your free account.
2. Enter an area code into the box on the screen that you’d like to use for your new Google number. Once you find a number that is okay with you, tap the option labeled “Select” to continue.
3. Tap “Verify” on the screen.
4. Enter your current phone number into the box on the screen and tap the green “Send Code” button to continue.
5. Google will send you a six-digit code in a text message. Enter the code on your phone’s keypad to verify your registration.
That’s it! Now, whenever you use Craigslist or any other service where you need to provide a phone number, just give them your Google Voice number instead of your real one.
Scammers won’t be able to associate your phone number with a new Google Voice number, meaning they won’t be able to use it to carry out any illegal activities they have in mind.