LOS ANGELES - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers of a trick used by scammers who attempt to conceal their identity and steal sensitive information by using a technique known as the Google Voice verification scam.
It involves scammers targeting people who post items for sale on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Once inquiring about the item for sale, a scammer will ask for a phone number and explain that out of concern about potentially fake listings, they want to verify a victim’s identity.
They’ll attempt to do this by sending the victim a text message with a Google Voice verification code and asking the victim for the code.
The FTC warns that if a victim gives them the code, the scammer will attempt to use it to create a Google Voice number linked to the victim’s phone.
While it may seem harmless, if the scammer is successful, they’ll be able to scam others while concealing their identity using a victim’s phone number. With this information, they may also be able to access victims’ accounts using their name and phone number.
If you gave someone who you suspect may be a scammer a Google Voice verification code, follow these steps from Google to reclaim your number.
Other scams are becoming common as the holiday season approaches. The commission previously warned consumers of another scam involving impersonators pretending they work for Amazon.
Acting FTC Associate Director Maria Mayo said scammers can contact you to offer a "refund" for an unauthorized purchase but "accidentally transfer" more than promised. They then ask for you to send back the difference.
Mayo said, behind the scenes, the scammer moves your own money from one of your bank accounts to the other (like your savings to checkings, or vice versa) to make it look like you were refunded so, any money you send back to Amazon is actually your money from your own account.
In 2020, the U.S. saw a 427% increase in delivery and shipping-related scams amid Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to data from cybersecurity firm Check Point Research.
Amazon was the most impersonated brand in the U.S.; 65% of fake delivery emails came from bad actors posing as Amazon, Check Point found.
The company said some Amazon departments may call customers, but they will never ask for personal information or offer an unexpected refund. Also, the company will never send an unsolicited message trying to get this information. Additionally, Amazon will not ask for you to make payments outside of the website nor ask for remote access to your computer.
If you have become a victim of such scams, the FTC urges you to report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
FOX Business and FOX 2 Detroit contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.