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Warning! Phone Spoofing Scam

How to Recover Your Number

   
   

Spoofing your phone number is a popular scam right now. Any online presence that displays your phone number, usually a forum conversation or classified ad, is vulnerable to this scammer.

As an example, if you are selling an item on Craigslist, be prepared to receive a text in two parts from the "phone number" scammer.

The first part asks if you are "real" as a seller. [You may be tempted to respond because of Craigslist's reputation for scammers.] If you respond in a positive way, the hook is set.

The second part arrives later the same day asking you to accept a Google Authorization code being sent right now, then text the code to them (the actual scammer) as proof. 

Once this process is complete, the scammer controls your number. When you call someone, the Caller ID reads another number entirely.

To fix this: (personal experience)

   
  1. Call your phone company customer service (or scam department) as soon as you discover this spoof (or realize you have sent the Google code as described above). Customer service gets your number back from the scammer and checks for any activity such as new phone orders. Now is the time to change your account PIN.    
  2. Log into Google (Gmail or other Google account) and remove your phone number from their verification process. If done in time, this keeps the scammer from using your Google account for any purpose. Also change your password here at Google. Google suggests you change to their 2-step process at login. All this information is available when you change your password.    
  3. Log into Craigslist and report this to their scam department. Your ad may disappear from your account.    
  4. Remove your phone number from any other online account that uses that phone number for verification. Change all passwords for those accounts.    
  5. Call a friend with a cellphone (or Caller ID) and find out what number comes up for you. It may be "unknown caller" with an unknown number. Check it out. Keep this scammer's number for future reference, although the scammer probably drops it quickly when caught.    

  Some other hints your number may be spoofed:
 
   
  • You are trying to log in from an un-authorized machine. (Not you obviously)
  • Someone else is trying to log into your Gmail account.
  • Someone is trying to associate their Craigslist account with your phone, making you responsible for their illegal activity.
   

 

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