Online frauds and scams are everywhere these days. Trying to avoid encountering one is only getting harder and harder. It seems that criminals have moved away from robbing banks and have shifted to robbing bank accounts instead. The move seems to be paying off, as the profits from their robberies have never been higher.
The Federal Trade Commission reported a new record of $3.56 billion lost during the first six months of 2022. That amount averages to about $593 million being stolen each month, $148.25 million each week, and $21.2 million each day. Could you imagine what America would look like if $21.2 million were being stolen from banks every day?
The reason why these criminals have been so successful is that it’s really hard to stop them. The government has passed multiple bills designed to curb the massive issues. The most recent being the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act.
Unfortunately, most of these measures have largely been ineffectual. The new records for stolen money are more than enough proof of that.
Since the government is virtually powerless to stop these scams, many tech companies have taken it upon themselves to protect user data. The most common of which is known as two-factor authentication (2FA). For tech supergiant Google, their current 2FA of choice is verification codes.
What Is a Google Verification Code?
A Google verification code is exactly what it sounds like: a code sent by Google to verify your identity. You’ll normally be sent a verification code whenever you’re creating a new account on Google, trying to reset your password, or accessing your account from a different device. The extra step in the 2-step verification can prove very useful when you’re trying to limit access to your account.
How Do Google Verification Codes Work?
For verification codes to work, you would need to attach a phone number or email address to your account. Google would then be able to send an authentication code to your new phone or Gmail account whenever it was necessary.
After it’s sent, you have a limited amount of time to enter the code before it expires. Should you fail to enter the correct verification code on time, then you wouldn’t be granted access to your account.
Why Do Google Verification Codes Matter?
Verification codes can be quite frustrating to handle. Entering your username and password is already a touch annoying, but having to also use a verification code is an entirely different level. However, the goal of these codes is to limit access to your account.
Anytime that a hacker would try to access your account, they would need to enter a verification code. Unless they have access to your emails and/or phone, they’ll be denied entry into your account.
When You May Need a Google Verification Code
Earlier, we touched on when you would need to use a Google verification code. Thankfully, you won’t always have to use one to access your account.
It will only be during a few special occasions, such as:
- Creating a New Google Account
- Logging Into a Different Device
- Resetting Your Password
Creating a New Google Account
The first time that you’ll need to use a verification code is whenever you create your Google account. Google will require you to provide an email address or phone number for your account.
To verify that you have access to the email or number, it will then send you a verification code as a test. You’ll have to enter this verification code to proceed to the second step in the process.
Logging Into a Different Device
The entire purpose of using verification codes is to help limit access to your account. Google allows you to “remember” trusted devices that you frequently use. For example, if you’re always accessing your Google account from your laptop, then you won’t be required to enter a verification code. However, if you tried to access it via your mobile device, Google would send a verification code via text message or email first.
Resetting Your Password
Locking someone out of their account is often the first step for hackers.
To prevent this from happening, Google uses verification codes whenever you do a password reset. It’s the final level of defense that can prevent you from being locked out of your account.
Common Google Verification Scams To Watch Out For
Ironically, Google verification backup codes have started being used as the basis for online scams. The very thing they were created to prevent. Each scam is usually centered around the same concept with different details.
For example, it usually starts with you receiving an email or text saying that your Google account has been compromised. It also states that you’ll need to reply to confirm your identity. When you do, the scammer will then try to log into your Google account, which triggers the verification code.
Their response to your response would be a request to provide the verification code. If you do, then the spammer will gain access to your account, change the password, and log you out of it.
Another scam is the Google Voice number scam. Scammers will call people who’ve posted items on Craigslist or similar and ask you to repeat a certain Google Voice verification code. Then, they’ll create a Google Voice account with your voice to potentially scam others… or worse.
Sensitive Information and Verification Codes
The interesting thing about using your phone number for verification codes is that it opens you up to a different type of data breach. You see, your phone number is personal information that’s fairly sensitive.
By linking it to your account, you’ll be providing spammers with the key they need to access your data. You’re already in trouble once a hacker knows your phone number.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use verification codes. After all, they can be extremely beneficial for preventing the theft of your personal data.
Other Safety Measures for the Digital Age
Between phishing, identity theft, and more, cyber security is a top priority.
Besides keeping an eye out for scams, you can commit to a few other cybersecurity measures. For instance, you can secure your wireless router, install firewalls, back up important data, and get a second cell phone number.
A second number, like the ones provided by Burner, can be tossed aside whenever you want. There’s nothing important attached to the number, so throwing it away doesn't mean you lose anything. When used properly, it keeps you several steps ahead of the cyber criminals out there.
However, Burner does not work for every site’s verification codes. Keep this in mind when using it for various sites. However, what Burner does do is work to keep your personal information safe, lets you change phone numbers in a snap (including area codes), and blocks spam. You may choose to have several phone numbers on one device; you can even set do not disturb hours for one specific number.
Perhaps more importantly, the lack of data attachment means that hackers can’t use it against you. If they ever get a hold of your second number, there won’t be anything important attached to it. The key that they find would open up an empty safe and lead them on a wild goose chase.
Visit Burner to learn more about how it works. You can start your free seven-day trial to get a feel for the app.
What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)? How It Works and Example | Investopedia
Add or Remove Trusted Computers | Google Account Help
US Consumers Lose Record $3.56 Billion to Online Fraud in H1 2022 | CNP News
H.R.1215 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Fraud and Scam Reduction Act | Congress.gov
When Google Might Send You a Text | Google Account Help
The Google Voice scam: How this verification code scam works and how to avoid it | Consumer Advice