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Google Voice Code Verification Scam

There are all kinds of online scammers and being well aware with the most common virtual scams is really important because, if you are not careful, you can end up in a lot of trouble in case you get tricked and agree to fulfill the demands of a potential scammer. Here, we will tell you about one rather common scam scheme that uses the Google Voice/Google Phone service. If you do not know what this service is, it is basically a free phone number given to you by Google. Calls to that number can be forwarded to your phone but also to other devices as well and in order to set up that Google Phone number, you’d need to provide your personal phone number for verification. During the process of setting up Google Phone, you’d be provided with a six-digit code. In order to complete the set up process, Google will call you and you will need to enter the six-digit code for verification. The idea of the scam related to Google Voice/Phone is that the crooks would use your personal phone number to set up a Google Phone number of their own and your number would be used for verification.

The Google verification code scam

google verification code scam

A large number of users report the google verification code scam.

Here are the basic mechanism of the scam in the majority of instances:

First and foremost, the targeted users are people who have somehow disclosed their personal phone number. Some of the most common victims are people who have posted ads on Craigslist (hence, why this scam is oftentimes referred to as the Google Voice Craigslist scam) with items for sell. Usually, users there provide their personal numbers so that potential buyers could easily contact them. This is how the crooks can acquire the phone number of a potential victim. However, this could also happen in a number of other ways – through dating apps and sites, other advertising/selling platforms and so on and so forth.

Once the scammers have set their eyes upon a potential victim and have the victim’s number, they try to set up a Google Phone number for themselves using the targeted user’s personal number for verification. Now, this is where the main part of the scam comes into play – no one can freely use your number to set up a Google Phone one and so once the scammers try to do that, they are given the six-digit code we mentioned earlier.

This is when they call their victim and lie to them. If we take the Craigslist example – the targeted user would be told by the scammer (through texting) that the latter is interested in whatever item the user is selling. However, they will also say that they are using a Google Phone number and that once they call the seller to arrange the purchase, the seller would need to enter a six-digit code once the buyer (the scammer) calls them.

Of course, this six-digit code is none other than the one provided by Google which is needed to finalize the setting up of the Google phone number and entering it when the call is received will do nothing else but verify the registration conducted by the scammer.

What’s the purpose of all that

Now, this is normally not a scam that will cost you money or directly cause harm to you. However, it is also not something that you’d want to fall for. In most cases, the whole idea behind this scheme is that the scammers would be able to get a free and fresh-new Google Phone number which they can later use in other scams and similar nefarious activities. Now, we can only hypothesize what the said Google Phone number can be used for but there are a lot of different possibilities. In most cases, the end user would not get directly affected and/or involved in any of that. However, such a possibility is still present and should not be ignored. The very notion that some anonymous cyber crook is using your personal phone number for their illegal activities should be enough of a reason to take immediate action and “retrieve” your phone number so that the scammers could no longer use it in case you have already fallen victim to this scheme.

How to take your personal number back (connecting your personal number to your own Google account)

The gist of this procedure is connecting your phone number to a Google account of your own which would automatically take it out of the scammers’ control. Here, we will show you how you can do that so stay with us and read carefully the next lines if you have already been targeted and tricked by this type of anonymous virtual crooks.

  1. Visit this page https://voice.google.com/u/0/about and select Get Google Voice if you don’t have a Google Voice account. If you already have a Google Voice account, skip to Step 4.
  2. When you are asked to provide a forwarding number, enter a phone number different from the one that the scammers “stole”. You can use any other phone number as long as you can receive calls on it – you can ask a friend or a relative to give you their phone and thus allow you to use their phone number so that you could complete this step. The number you use here can later be removed from your Google Voice account.
  3. Once you provide a forwarding phone number, Google will give you a six-digit code that you are supposed to enter when you receive a call on the forwarding number. This time, you should enter the code to verify the registration.
  4. Now, from your Google Voice account, click on the blue plus (+) button to add a second forwarding number. Now, add the number the scammers “stole”. You will likely receive a warning that this number is currently used by another account – agree to change the account for that number. If you don’t get such a warning, this means that the scammers are no longer using your number and there’s no need to do anything. Once again, a six-digit code will be given to you by Google and you will need to enter it when you receive the call.

Warning!: Though it should already be quite obvious, you are not supposed to enter any six-digit codes on calls from Google unless you are the one who has initiated the process and requested that your number is used in your Google Voice account.


42 Comments

  • If no one calls for the verification code, that means they can’t use the “stolen” number, correct, and can only be used if they obtain the verification code?

        • They will be able to use your phone number for online verification – typically, the goal is to acquire a new Google Phone number, which can, in turn, be used for various other online scams that profit the scammer. In most cases, the user who has had their phone number stole doesn’t even realize what’s happened and no harm comes to them. So, even if you send them the code and your number gets “stolen”, this shouldn’t lead to money loss or some other serious issue. That being said, it’s still preferable if you don’t fall for this scam or, in case you have already fallen for it, it is important to get your phone number back by following the instructions available here.

      • Hi Brandon,

        When I tried to reclaim my phone number, it seems that I can open the google voice setting directly without the google voice number. So I just linked my number and no warning popped out. Does that mean my phone number is safe now? But when I tried to remove my phone number and use my phone number to set up a google voice, the warning popped out that this phone number can’t be set up for google voice, could you tell me what’s going on? Thank you!

  • So, a call has to be made from the scammer in order for a number to be stolen? Texting the code will not in itself complete the “stolen” step? Thanks.

  • When I get to Google Voice (step 1) and click “get the voice” there is a drop-down menu for what kind of personal use. I have an iphone, which one do I click?

    • Just received my third scammer attempt to ” verify Google voice”. This time however the scammer upped yhe game and sent it in a foreign language so that someone who reads only English would miss the part if the English message that explcitly states ” do not give anyone this code_. Dirty crooks .

  • I am confused, someone from a craigslist list add asked for my code, I gave it to them. What will happen now, will any of my personal information be stolen because I gave them this code? They asked for it on a second phone and i gave it to them before I realized that something was wrong. Do i need to protect myself?

    • Usually, this type of scams do not directly threaten you. However, it is likely that your phone number may be used by the scammer on some way. Therefore, we strongly advise you to follow the steps from the guide so that nobody except you can use your phone number for verification.

  • I don’t have a blue circle with a plus sign, nor can I add my stolen number for forwarding or “reclaim” it… It doesn’t give you a prompt to reclaim. It would be great to get correct, up-to-date instructions.

  • Hi Brandon, Thank you for posting these instructions. This hapenned to me about 10 minutes ago and I didn’t give the scammer the code that Google sent me – does this mean I’m safe?
    I tried to set up a google voice account with my cell # and got a message that the phone number can’t be used to set it up. What do I do now?
    I tried following the instructions you outlined and it didn’t work.

    • If you haven’t sent the code to the scammer, your phone number shouldn’t be stolen. Maybe there is another reason why you can’t use your number to set up the account.

  • Brandon, I have a yahoo account, not Gmail, do I have to create a gmail account then set up voice mail, or since I have no Gmail account I am ok ?

    • If you haven’t sent the code to the scammers, there is nothing you need to do. If you have sent the code, then you will need to create an account and complete the instructions from this article in order to restore your number and prevent the scammers from using it.

  • Someone just tried to do this to me. Sounded fishy so I didn’t give them the code. Googled it, found this post, and now glad I didn’t. Is there a way to report this person/ number as a scammer?

  • Just gave the code to the scammer, then I googled and found this post. Thank you for posting the scam and instructions to take back the phone number.

    After setting up the account, one needs to go to settings to add additional phone number (the stolen number) to get it back. The blue plus button is not there anymore.

  • Posted an item on Craigslist and immediately received a request for the google voice code. I was weary of it and googled if it was a scam and found this. THANK YOU for posting this information.

  • Thanks for posting these instructions, Brandon. I downloaded the Google phone app for my iPhone, but when opening it was not asked to provide a forwarding number. Where do I do that?

      • I got a message about the code, I called the phone number and did not give them a code, but I know they have my number because it is posted on my craigslist listing. I see now I cannot get into my craigs acct. unless I agree to the new agreement as of Aug. 16, 2019. I’m afraid to agree for fear it is a scam or virus? Do you know anything about this agreement? Thanks. MIke

        • What are the contents of that agreement? Are you sure it’s from Craigslist? It may indeed be a legitimate agreement, and not a scam, but you should tell us more about it.

  • Thank you for posting this, but BEWARE: After several hours spent diving into this issue myself, I have come to the conclusion that INSTALLING THIS APP (to block the scammer) IS THE SCAM
    READ THE PERMISSIONS! THEY ARE OUTRAGEOUS: ALLOWING ACCESS to Your Google Voice account can not be deleted (you can delete call logs, voicemai, recordings, everything contained in your account but you can’t delete the Google Voice account itself) but if you truly don’t need your Google Voice account and number anymore, you can disable Google Voice and delete your Google number, or disable your Google Voice account but abandon your Google number, which gives you several months to change your mind and use Google Voice again, should you find it necessary.
    Disable Google Voice
    Google Voice is a sophisticated system so there is no single place to “turn it off”. and ANYTHING, ANYTIME, including that of your CONTACTS!
    What’s worse and is NOT TOLD UPFRONT: ONCE INSTALLED OR AN ACCOUNT IS MADE, YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO CLOSE IT!
    Quoted Answer from Google Platinum Expert on Voice Help, FAQ: “…Your Google Voice account can not be deleted (you can delete call logs, voicemai, recordings, everything contained in your account but you can’t delete the Google Voice account itself) but if you truly don’t need your Google Voice account and number anymore, you can disable Google Voice and delete your Google number, or disable your Google Voice account but abandon your Google number, which gives you several months to change your mind and use Google Voice again, should you find it necessary.
    Disable Google Voice
    Google Voice is a sophisticated system so there is no single place to “turn it off”…”

  • This happened to me. I tried following your instructions and I was going to add my phone as a linked number but it says. “Something went wrong. Try verifying with another number”. What should I do? Does this mean I will never be able to get my phone back? Should I change my phone number?

  • Thanks for this! I had to use it. Apparently the scammers had thrown away my number because I had no trouble putting the number I got scammed on as my second number.

  • Wait, I take that back. I was able to set up with my other phone number but as I am now realizing, I didn’t have my scammed number added on. As a matter of fact when I hit the plus sign to add a new number (looks green to me) it says “This phone number can’t be used to sign up for a Google Voice number. Try verifying with another number.” Now what?

  • Sorry about his… last time. Here’s what all is happening. I set up on the device that uses the number I got scammed with. When it asked for a number to call to verify, it was automatically showing my cell number… the number I got scammed with. I erased that number and typed in my LAN line number. It called my Google Voice called my LAN line and gave a code to type in. I typed that in on my cell phone (device I got scammed on and my account was now active. I tried to add my cell number to it as another linked number and it says “This phone number can’t be used to sign up for a Google Voice number. Try verifying with another number”. Now here’s how the activated Google Voice phone number works for me. If someone calls, it rings my home phone. If I answer it I can talk to them. If I don’t answer it, it leaves a message on my cell phone (device I used to set up account on. I can text someone from my cell phone using Google Voice and it sends to them using the Google Voice phone number. They can also text the Google Voice number and I receive it on my cell phone. It bypasses my LAN line… the line Google Voice is connected to. If I try to call from my cell phone using Google Voice then it asks to verify phone number. When I try to use my cell number (while using my cell) it gives me that message about not being able to use that number. If I type in the LAN line then I am only resetting it as the main line again for Google Voice to connect to. It acknowledges that my cell phone is not my LAN line but sends me all digital info but nothing with actual calls. I have seen nothing about my cell number that was scammed being used on another account. It says I can’t use it. Is this evidence that they are still using my number? Is it that maybe they threw my number away after using it how they wanted (we’ll call this digital rape for now) and that Google Voice won’t allow the number to be used again as they were doing? Do I just get a new cell number and ditch my scammed one?

  • GOT IT FIXED!!! I uninstalled app from cell phone, reinstalled and followed instructions in the help section of Google Voice. It came to the point of asking if I wanted to use scammed number with device. I clicked that I did and the message you said would come up did! The one about it being used already and did i want to reclaim it. I clicked yes and BEHOLD… All is well. I have my new Google Voice account connected to my scammed phone number and have now gotten out from the scam. Thank you for this again. I had to do a little different but I wouldn’t have figured it out without your info.

  • Completely confused….. by clicking the link in step 1, it goes to a page that says “Google Voice” & then you have the option of clicking “Personal Use” or “Business Use”….. ok… so I click “Personal Use” then you have to download the app, then sign in with your email address & I’m at “Choose a Google Voice Number….Search for available numbers by city or area code”…..I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do here & these instructions don’t match up with what happens when you click that link.

    • I am having the same issue. These instructions are vague and I am not sure what to do after I install the app on my phone. How do I know which number to choose or how I can enter one that I create?

  • I just got scammed. I was trying to sell an item on Craigs list and I was asked to send this verification code to the potential buyer . I did it by mistake and now I cannot figure out these instructions. I only have 1 cel number and a . land line number. Does this mean I have to install on my cel and use my land line number. what can happen if I cant fix this?

  • Thank you for posting this. Unrelated to a craigslist post, I received three texts with google voice code. I immediately suspected someone was trying to use my cell # to generate a google voice number. As soon as I got home, I found this post, and made sure that my google account is associated only with my phone number. I also changed my google password and made sure no unexpected devices are attached to my google account.

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