How to Identify and Avoid WhatsApp Scams
Ever received a unique link or a message from a friend on WhatsApp asking for money? Did you ever try to click that link or reply to your friend?
Wait! It's a trap! It could be a SCAM!
There are 2 billion WhatsApp users worldwide, and about 100 billion messages are sent daily. Among those messages, lurk scammers wait to poke their noses. While Whatsapp is the most convenient way of sending messages, it is also a straightforward way for scammers to spread them in different ways in the hope that vulnerable people will somehow fall victim to a scam.
The more platforms are becoming accessible across the world, and the more WhatsApp crime is increasing, resulting in the hefty cost of thousands of dollars to each victim. Through this article, you will be aware of the real-life WhatsApp scams. This article will help you to identify Whatsapp scams and how to avoid being trapped by fraudsters.
Part 1: Types of WhatsApp Scams
People experience many types of WhatsApp scams, and you could also be next! Therefore have a look at the most common types of WhatsApp Scams on the following list:
WhatsApp hijacking is one of the common scams in which fraudsters gain control of an unsuspecting WhatsApp account of users to commit fraud. It contains cybercriminals obtaining the phone number of a user.
They download WhatsApp on their device and then contact the victim, referring to themselves as their friend. In the meantime, they request the verification code of the victim's account. They text the victim and say that the code was sent mistakenly to get the verification code and become accessible to the victim's account.
It is common for cybercriminals to break into the victim's voicemail box and gain access to their WhatsApp account. When you install Whatsapp, it sends you a six-digit code for account verification. A scammer or fraudster can install Whatsapp on their own devices to steal account details.
It is often straightforward for the criminal to re-fraud contacts as they have contact names, display pictures, and much more. Regarding the Whatsapp sending code via text, they select an option claiming that they never received any verification code by phone.
The WhatsApp scammers already know that the victim will get a call from WhatsApp simultaneously, so the call goes to voicemail. The voicemail remains in the victim's inbox, and for the hackers, the trapped person fails to change the pin used to protect the inbox, such as 0000 or 1111. The hacker gets the WhatsApp verification code and gains control over the account.
Impersonation scams involve the fraudster pretending to be a victim's friend, a family member, or an acquaintance. The scammer contacts a user from an unknown number, noting that the profile picture may be familiar, then immediately asks for money in an emergency.
The fraudster may use the photos of a friend they have found on social media accounts or refer to events that the victim has posted on social media sites such as Facebook.
Though there are no current unauthorized WhatsApp versions on both Android Play Store and iOS App Store, there have been some reports in the past confirming spyware hidden in applications that were available for download. When a user installed the compromised app, WhatsApp messages were propagated and started sending links to the download page to other users to circulate the malware further.
Fraudsters have another simple scam method: external links, which enable mass distribution of links that lead the users directed to the browser to fill a survey promising a freebie. The victim completes the survey and enters sensitive information such as name, address, bank details, and email address. Later on, the WhatsApp scammer can give you these details for attempting theft or selling on to third parties.
Part 2: How to Identify WhatsApp Scam
There are many ways to spot a WhatsApp scam. You can identify those with some advice and what steps you should consider if you get such messages.
Frequently Forwarded Messages
Many WhatsApp users should be aware that the app allows you to forward and receive messages from one person to another.
However, users might be less aware that WhatsApp also has a separate indicator for consistently forwarded messages. When a message is forwarded five times, users will see a double arrow instead of the single arrow that shows a typical forwarded message.
Users will also see a small warning on their inbox that helps them know that a specific message has been forwarded many times.
Note: if the message is forwarded more than five-time, it is always and mostly going to be spam. A boring meme is circulating fake news, videos, or something more sinister.
Scams and Suspicious Links
A massive part of the WhatsApp scam has only one purpose: to try and make you click the link in the message. When you click the link on your side, it will try to get your details, login credentials, banking details, and any other valuable data for the dark web.
You can easily send a message to the contacts you have on WhatsApp. It means that the spam senders can scrape the web for the contact details, such as buying a list of active numbers from the dark web. They can also hack other services from your phone number on file and then send you unsought messages.
It is doubtful that you have those senders in your address books which means that when it comes in your inbox, it will show as an unidentified number.
Indeed, you will occasionally receive a message from an unknown number that turns out to be your friend who has changed the number. Still, in most cases, they will be spam!
However, it is not a foolproof approach. Still, you can hide your WhatsApp status to stop people from sending you unsolicited WhatsApp messages. The sender will not know whether your account is active or not.
Verification of Login Requests
You can't use WhatsApp for Two-Factor Authentication on any application or service we know. Therefore, you should set 2FA on all your accounts as it is the best way to ensure security even if anyone has managed to control your login credentials because no 2FA messages will land on your WhatsApp.
Using 2FA apps such as Yubikey or Google Authenticator would be best. Still, they are less likely to arrive through a direct message. If you receive such messages on WhatsApp and have not tried logging in, don't worry! It does not mean that someone is trying to spam you, the message is spam, and you can ignore and block it.
Spam messages often contain the same generic tactic to dupe you. There are five common types of exact wordings in messages that you need to be aware of:
- A misspelling Grammatical Mistakes
- You will be asked to click on a link and activate new features with the link or to share your personal information such as name, birth date, bank account number, credit card,d, or password.
- Ask you to forward a message.
- Claim that you need to pay a specific amount to use WhatsApp.
If you receive any of the above messages, you should delete them immediately.
Part 3: How to Avoid WhatsApp Scams
Letting yourself be aware of the types of WhatsApp and knowing how to recognize them is helpful. Still, it is more beneficial to prevent those scams altogether.
Check the list below about tips on preventing WhatsApp scams:
1. If you get a message from an unknown person, for example, it is from PayPal, then long-press the link and determine the URL to see if the web address matches the official website of PayPal.
2. Messages from unidentified numbers asking for money are common. We recommend you confirm with your friends first through another communication method before taking action.
3. Try calling you from an unknown number; if no one answers the call, then text your friend immediately and ask them if they are contacting you.
4. You can add a safe pin code to your voicemail service, creating a barrier between you and scammers. The code prevents them from retrieving the WhatsApp verification code.
5. Activate WhatsApp 2-step verification, and once it is enabled, the app will send you a verification code to the default device when anyone tries to Login from a different device.
6. If you receive such a message, take a close look at the language and ask yourself whether the unknown contact sounds familiar or their grammar or spelling are off compared to expected.
7. If someone claims they are contacting you from a bank or mobile phone provider asking you for urgent payment, take a step back and consider the message's legitimacy.
As the use of technology is increasing, the chance of getting scammed is also at a high peak. The safety of your family, children, and yours should be your priority; therefore, if you want to keep your loved ones saved from any unusual online activities, install AirDroid Parental Control. The best comprehensive parental control app lets parents watch their children's online activities.