(WTTV/WXIN) — Google is making it easier for people to regain control of their phone numbers that were stolen by scammers and attached to Google Voice accounts and used for spam calls.
Last year, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported about 4,000 complaints from people who had their phone numbers hijacked by crooks. That made up about 61% of all identity theft reports they received.
Google Voice is popular among scammers because it allows you to make international calls. However, you have to have a valid phone number attached to the account, so bad guys have been stealing phone numbers to make their crooked calls.
Victims suddenly start getting angry calls and text messages from people telling them to stop contacting them even though they’re not the ones making the call with their number.
Scammers usually steal phone numbers by posing as interested buyers and sellers in online marketplaces. Then they try to convince you to share your Google verification code in order to attach your phone number to a Google Voice account.
If this has happened to you or someone you know, Google has a process to regain control of the number.
Go online to “Google Voice Help,” scroll down and click on “protect your verification code.” Scroll down again and click on “disconnect your number from Google Voice.”
The next page says “take your number back.” That’s where you can enter your phone number and click on “send the code.” Google will text you the code, and once you enter that on the website, you’re done.
At that point, your number should be disconnected from Google Voice services and the bad guys can’t use it anymore. Even if this hasn’t happened to you, it’s still a good reminder to never share your Google verification code with somebody you don’t know.