Selling unwanted items in your home to earn extra money is easier than ever, thanks to social media platforms that offer the service. In recent years, Facebook Marketplace has grown in popularity, competing with eBay and Craigslist. But the Better Business Bureau warns that there are reports of fraudulent activity on the Marketplace site here in Kansas that uses Google Voice verification.
the scam works
For those unfamiliar with Google Voice, it’s a phone number through which you can make calls or send text messages from a web browser or mobile device. One number works across all your devices and can even be set up using one of your existing phone numbers. A scammer’s goal is to set up their own Google Voice number using your information so they can use it anonymously (or disguised as you) when trying to scam other people. .
The scam works like this:
• You place an ad trying to sell an item, or perhaps you find a lost pet.
• The scammer contacts you and claims that he just wants to verify that you are a real person first, sometimes claiming that he himself has been scammed in the past.
• They ask you to send them your phone number.
• Alternatively, they can send you a text message with a Google Voice verification code, then asking you to send that code to them, replying on the platform you listed your item on.
• They then create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number.
A scammer may be looking for a Google verification code only or may want additional information about you. Once they have enough information about you, they can access your accounts or open new ones in your name.
Do this to avoid the scam
Remember these tips to thwart the schemes of dishonest scammers:
• Protect your personal information. You don’t have to give your phone number to anyone to make a sale in the online marketplace. Never give it to someone you don’t know. Never put your phone number in public social media posts.
• Know the red flags of a scam. A deal that sounds too good to be true is precisely too good to be true. Pressure for a quick deal should be ignored. Someone who overpays you is setting you up for a scam.
• Understand market politics. Most online marketplaces discourage any transaction outside of the platform. (Scammers often try to get you off the site to process.)
A marketplace has guidelines for verifying sellers and buyers – stick to them. This may include the use of specific payment methods. (Do not accept checks or money orders. Remember that if you deposit an NSF check, the bank will hold you responsible for any dishonour.)
If you are a victim
If you’ve ever been a victim of the Google Voice scam, you can recover your Voice number. Do an online search for “how to recover my Google Voice number” for a link provided by Google.
Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Also report it to BBB Scamtracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.
For all other questions about buying and selling on Facebook Marketplace or other platforms, contact BBB at 800-856-2417 or visit the BBB.org website.