Beware of Google Voice verification scam, BBB warns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Selling items online can be easy and profitable, but there are a few things sellers need to be on the lookout for.

FOX13 has discovered a new scam targeting people who are trying to make a quick return on their items and who have listed their phone numbers online.

We’re all familiar with two-step authentication. That six-digit code sent to your phone serves as an extra layer of security for your online accounts.

But now, scammers have found a way to get around it and are using it to their advantage.

“They come out acting like they want to make sure you aren’t a scammer. But, they are the ones trying to scam you,” Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South said.

It all starts when someone puts their phone number online, whether on Facebook Marketplace, a Craigslist ad, or even a post for a lost pet.

A scammer will see that number, reach out to you, and then act interested in what you’re trying to sell.

“The way it usually goes is you’ll get some type of text message or maybe a call from the scammer, and they will claim that they’re interested,” Irwin said. “They’ll say they want to make sure you’re not a scammer, so they want to send you a verification code.”

However, they’re really trying to set up a Google Voice account with your number.

If you give them the verification code, they’ll be able to use your number to scam others while hiding their own identity.

Google Voice is a free service that lets you merge multiple phone numbers into a single number that you can call or text from.

The scammer could use that number to rip off other people and conceal their identity by posing as you.

“That’s one of the ways they’re able to take your number without you ever really knowing about it and then perpetrating fraud in your name,” Irwin said.

Irwin said these types of scams have really picked up in the Mid-South over the past few weeks.

He said it’s a reminder to be extremely careful when putting your phone number online.

“Just because someone says they are interested doesn’t mean they are, and they certainly don’t need that authentication code,” Irwin said.