If you’ve used Google Voice before or are considering getting acquainted with the feature, it’s good to be aware of Google Voice scams. This type of fraudulent activity can cause quite a bit of trouble for you and your Google Voice contacts. Thus, it’s essential that you are aware of what it is, how to prevent it and, if you do fall victim to the scam, how to stop it.
In this post, we will look into all of these questions and, hopefully, help you avoid most Google Voice troubles in the future.
What Is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a service by Google that lets you make and receive calls and texts as well as use call forwarding — all free of charge. The service was first launched back in 2009 and has since become a must-have for a lot of users. However, with the introduction of more advanced smartphones, modern messenger apps and more, Google Voice started to fall behind — until the long-awaited update of 2017.
Today, Google Voice remains a viable phone option that lets one make voice calls over a standard broadband internet connection. It’s used by individual users as well as small businesses to keep their communication costs down. It’s simply a convenient and more cost-effective alternative to traditional phone calls. Getting started with Google Voice is really simple — all you will need is a good internet connection and a microphone.
The best thing about Google Voice is that it’s almost entirely free — most features on the app don’t require any payments. There are just a few occasions where you might need to credit your Google Voice account — for instance, when making international calls.
What Is the Google Voice Scam?
Google Voice Scam is a fraudulent activity when your phone number gets hijacked and a scammer creates a Google Voice account in your name. They will then proceed to scam other people (technically, in your name) while remaining undetected. The scam is also known as the “Google Voice Code Verification” scam and it can victimize anyone who has ever displayed their phone number publicly on the Internet — for instance, when posting an ad. The scammer will then get in touch with the potential victim as if they were responding to the said ad. The scammer will then ask you to (under one pretext or another) to open up a message with a six-digit number. Once you have disclosed the code – your number is hijacked.
How Does the Google Voice Scam Work?
The scam is typically associated with Craigslist, a popular ad website in the United States that features posts about jobs, housing, services, items for sale, wanted items, discussion forums and more. Most of the ads posted on the site to indeed contain a phone number — which is there for everyone to see. Thus, scammers can try to get to someone’s Google Voice Account using this platform. So, a Craigslist user may get a call or message from someone pretending to be working for the site. The user will be asked to verify their number by sending back a verification code. In reality, however, Craigslist does not initiate calls for registered users — neither to verify their ads nor comments.
Here’s how it works:
- A user posts an ad on the Internet and includes their phone number.
- Scammers contact the user using the provided number and pretend they want to know more about the ad.
- They then ask the user to share the code that has been sent to their phone (giving a false reason). The code is, in fact, sent by Google as a verification step for creating a new account.
- They will then use the verification code to finalize creating a Google Voice account.
- The scam victim probably won’t hear from the scammers again — but if they try to open a Google Voice account, they will receive the following message:
“Please note that the forwarding number (XXX) XXX-XXXX was deleted from your Google Voice account (XXX@gmail.com) because it was claimed and verified by another Google Voice user.
If you still want this forwarding number on your account and believe this was an error, please click here to learn more.”
Why are Google Voice scams still around? The short answer to this is because they are quite easy to initiate. Since people are used to receiving verification codes, most of them do not see it as anything suspicious. Six-digit codes in particular are often used to finalize the registration process — and Google Voice uses these as well.
To sum up: Google Voice scam when “bad guys” get a hold of your Google Voice six-digit code and create a new account tied to your phone number. The purposes of the scam vary — but whatever they may be, the best course of action would be to get your number back as soon as possible.
How to Get Rid of Google Voice Scam?
So, how to recover a deleted Google Voice Number and beat the scam and can a Google Voice number be tracked?
As Google Voice numbers aren’t listed in phone books nor are they connected to a physical address, tracing them is complicated. But there is something you can do to get your number and account back. In fact, there are three important steps.
- Creating a Google Voice account (if you haven’t already)
- Using the verification code on a different number
- Retrieving your phone number
Let’s look at each one of these in more detail.
Step One: Create a Google Voice Account (if you haven’t already)
If you don’t yet have a Google Voice account, create one so that no other account can be opened using your phone number. Here’s how:
- Go to the official Google Voice website – https://voice.google.com/about.
- Select the For personal use option.
- Choose the right platform: iOS, Android or Web
- Create a new Google Voice account following the on-screen prompts.
- Press Continue.
Step Two: Use the Verification Code on a Different Number
This is important. You need to use a different number from the one that has been stolen from you. As an option, you can ask someone you know to borrow their phone for an instant. Any number should do as long as it’s never been used to create a Google Voice Account. After you have reclaimed your original account, you will be able to remove the new number without any problems.
Step Three: Retrieve Your Phone Number
Now, for the final part:
- As soon as you log into your account, click Add another phone or New linked number.
- Enter the number that has been stolen from you.
- You will receive a warning that this number is used by another account.
- You will then be asked if you would like to reclaim it: click Yes.
- If you don’t receive this warning, it probably means that the scammers are not using your phone number anymore.
There you have it. The three steps above should help you get rid of the Google Voice scam issue and ensure that your phone number is not used for any malicious purposes.
Just one more thing before you go. Besides Google Voice scam, there is lots of other trickery going on in the world wide web. As you are simply minding your own business online, malware or advertising sites may be changing your default home page or altering the settings on your search engine. This way, next time you are online, they will be able to show you their own content, messing with your search results. This will surely affect your overall browsing experience and you will find yourself bombarded with ads, pop-ups and sponsored search results.
So, what’s there to be done? One way of solving the problem would be to use a specialized browser protection tool — like the one featured on Auslogics BoostSpeed. The tool will keep your browsers safe from unauthorized change and will ensure that your time online is smooth, sage and uninterrupted.