scam alertThere is a new scheme involving Google voice authentication. What is Google Voice? It is a service—brought to you by Google that allows you to set up a new virtual phone number that can be used to make domestic and international calls or send and receive text messages. You do not even have to have a Google Voice account to get scammed in this particular scheme.

Here is how Google Voice Authentication Scams work:

You post your actual phone number on some online platform. It is common for scammers to target victims who use popular marketplace apps or websites to post items for sale. There have also been reports of people being targeted in other online locations, including sites where you post about lost pets.

The scammer contacts you via text or email as they are really interested in buying that couch or think Fluffy, your missing cat, is found. They say they just need to make sure you are legitimate so they don’t get scammed. They say they will send you an authentication code from Google to confirm that you are a real person and not a bot. You will receive that authentication code in the form of a voice call or a text message. They ask you to repeat that number to them. 

What they are actually doing is setting up a Google Voice account in your name using your real phone number as verification. Once set up, they can use that Google Voice account to conduct any number of scams against other victims that won’t come back directly to the scammer. They can also use that code to gain access to, and take over, your Gmail account.

If you do get scammed, check  Google’s website for information on how to take back control of that virtual voice account.

Here are some ways to avoid getting scammed in the first place:

  • Never share a Google verification code with others.
  • Only deal with buyers, sellers, and Fluffy-finders in person. If money is to exchange hands, make sure you are using legitimate payment processors.
  • Do not give out your email address to buyers/sellers conducting business via phone.
  • Do not let someone rush you into a sale. If they are pressuring you to respond, they are likely trying to manipulate you into acting without thinking.

Cyber Fraud

Another recent cyber fraud threat warns of hackers sending malicious USB thumb drives in the mail.  Learn more about steps to avoid phone, email and mailed scams on Metro’s FREE Save and Succeed. If you believe you are the victim of an online scam, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office.