If you ever use social media selling options like Facebook Marketplace or sites like eBay, you should be aware of a new scam making the rounds. Some sellers have reported that scammers posing as interested parties have found a new way to steal your personal information. Here’s how it works and what you need to do to avoid it.
This scam is popular because it can be extremely hard to spot. Here’s how it works: scammers will scroll through sites like Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace looking for recent item listings and then will pose an interested buyer. They’ll ask the seller for their phone number so they can verify the seller’s identity. The scammer will ask the seller to send them a code they are about to receive to their text messages, and then the really insidious part of the scheme is on.
That code is actually a two-factor authentication code that is supposed to keep someone’s Google account safe. If you give yours away to someone else, they can use it to break into your Google account, change your password, and then have access to your private information like your address, credit card number, and date of birth.
If you ever get a text message containing a code, keep it to yourself. You should never share a two-factor authentication code because it’s the last line of defense between your online profiles and scammers. When you get one of these codes, it means someone using your account name is trying to change your password.
As soon as they have this code, the damage is done. They can break into your account and sign out all other devices before changing your password. Then they’ve got everything they need to start posing as you online.
If you get a message on social media from someone who claims to be interested in your listing, ignore any requests to verify that you’re a “real person.” When you’re selling something online that will require a meet-up, you can just tell the prospective buyer to meet you in a public place so they can buy the item.
Anyone who wants you to send verification codes or other information over the internet is trying to scam you, no questions asked. When you see these kinds of requests, it’s safe to block the other person and carry on with the knowledge that you just avoided a lot of headaches by sidestepping a scammer.