News5 viewer warns about sharing Google verification codes with strangers

FTC says it's a scam and sharing codes leads to identity theft and hacks
News5 viewer warns about sharing Google verification codes with strangers
Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 09:06:17-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you’re looking to buy or sell items online this holiday season this warning is for you. Federal investigators say fraudsters are using contact information posted on these platforms to launch a Google verification scheme.

In this story News5 uncovers how it works and why you should never share a verification code.

In this case the fraudsters like to troll places like craigslist and facebook marketplace looking for contact information posted by sellers. Their goal is to contact these people and convince them to send a verification code to prove the posting is legit, but in reality they just want that verification code to hack accounts, steal personal information and even take control of people’s phone numbers.

In Colorado Springs Dan Green says he’s learned to always be on guard against fraudsters.

”I watch your segment a lot and I always pay attention and listen and they are out there for sure,” said Green.

Using his smartphone he decided to post some items from around his house for sale on Craigslist.

”I got a response probably within 10 minutes of posting it,” said Green.

The person reaching out to Dan said they were ready to make a purchase, but they needed him to do something first…

”He even threw out there in one of the text messages saying I know there are a lot of scams going on out there these days so that’s why I want to verify that you’re a real person,” said Green. ”So I responded. I said what do you mean by real person? And they said I’m going to send you a verification code through Google and once you get that verification read me the number and that way I can verify you are a real person and we will come buy it.”

The Google verification code was texted to him from Google. It even says in these messages, do not share it with anyone else.

”And I’m like oh heck no I’m not giving you this code,” said Green.

The Federal Trade Commission says Dan’s experience was a scam attack and if he did turn over the verification codes fraudsters will try to use it to create a Google Voice number linked to his phone number.

”They bank on doing this quick so you don’t really have a chance to think about it,” said Green.

Ultimately, if they can get enough information on you in this process, they could pretend to be you to access your accounts or open new accounts in your name.

”The possibilities are endless. It could make life very tough,” said Green.

Dan’s grateful he reached out to News5 in time to avoid falling victim to this attack. He hopes people will pay attention to his experience to stay safe too.

”It’s so easy to let something slip through the cracks and them boom you just opened up a whole can of worms that’s going to take awhile to fix,” Green told News5.

If you, or someone you know has handed over a Google verification code, there are steps you can take right now to try to undo some of that damage and take back control of your number.

Here is link to that information from the Google Voice Help Center.


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