RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A bit of technology that makes it easier to contact people is being used by scammers–we’re talking about Google Voice. 

Security experts say scammers are hijacking Google Voice numbers for criminal purposes. The scammer’s favorite targets are people selling things online. 

The FTC said criminals pose as interested buyers in online marketplaces and then steal a person’s personal information to create a fake Google Voice account in that person’s name. That’s where the troubles begin. 

Google voice allows you to use your phones and devices under a single number. 

Besides standard phone features like voicemail, with its cloud-based website, it allows the user to call people and send texts right from their computer to someone else’s phone through Google Voice. 

Millions now use the service and criminals have also discovered it. As a result, cybersecurity experts say Google Voice hijackings have become a big problem. 

“It’s happening every day,” said James Lee of the Identity Theft Resource Center.  “We get dozens of calls from someone who has lost control of their account because they gave away their Google Voice code.” 

The voice code is the key to your account. With that access code, Lee says a scammer can become you. 

“Somebody who’s gotten access can turn around and set up another Google Voice to your phone, so whatever criminal activity they conduct comes back to you,” said Lee. 

Online sellers are particularly vulnerable because the scammers can socially engineer them to get their Google Voice code. 

“The criminals will come in and say I want to buy your stuff, but I want to make sure you are real,” said Lee. “The way you can prove it is to give me your Google Voice code.” 

Once scammers have your code, they can impersonate you. Combined with other personal information about you they can access your accounts or open new accounts in your name.  

To stay safe:  

  • Never share your google verification code   
  • Don’t give out your email address on the phone.  
  • Don’t let someone rush you into a sale.  

Experts say someone pushing you to sell quickly is likely trying to manipulate you into acting without thinking. 

If you have been victimized—there are ways to reclaim your Google voice account. This tutorial from the Identity Theft Resource Center offers a  step-by-step way to recover your account.