Latest WhatsApp Scams: How to Protect Yourself in 2023
Those that use WhatsApp are being warned about the various WhatsApp scams. On average, people falling victim to a WhatsApp scam are losing £1,950
WhatsApp, the popular messaging app, has become a breeding ground for scammers looking to defraud unsuspecting users. In recent years, the number of WhatsApp scams has skyrocketed, leaving victims out of pocket by an average of £1,950. To protect yourself and your hard-earned money, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest scams and learn how to spot and avoid them.
Even though campaigns have been launched to help protect people against WhatsApp scams, people around the country and the world are still becoming victims.
There have been reports of people in Manchester, Lincoln, Hull, Grimsby, Leeds, Boston, Great Yarmouth, and Skegness receiving scam messages.
According to a report by Lloyds Bank, WhatsApp scams have seen a staggering 2,000% increase in the last 12 months. Criminals have recognized the potential of the messaging app as a platform for fraudulent activities, targeting users with various schemes to trick them into parting with their money. As the popularity of WhatsApp continues to grow, so does the risk of falling victim to these scams.
Common WhatsApp Scams
Hi Mum/Dad Scam
One of the most common WhatsApp scams involves fraudsters impersonating family members, particularly parents. They send messages pretending to be your mum, dad, or another close relative, claiming to have lost their phone and providing a new number. These messages are often designed to evoke an emotional response, making you more likely to fall for the scam.
The message: “Hi mum, this is my new number please save this one and delete the old one as it no longer works x”
The scam typically progresses with the fraudster requesting urgent financial assistance. They may claim to be stuck somewhere, unable to access the internet or online banking, and ask for money to be sent to help them out of their supposed predicament. To avoid falling victim to this scam, it’s important to verify the information by contacting your family member directly using a trusted phone number.
In impersonation fraud, criminals go to great lengths to impersonate someone you know, such as a family member or close friend. They may use WhatsApp to reach out to you, claiming to be in need of urgent help or assistance. The messages often contain sob stories designed to elicit sympathy and convince you to transfer money to them.
To further deceive victims, scammers may claim to have a new phone or have borrowed a friend’s phone, explaining the use of an unfamiliar number. They will often avoid speaking on the phone or provide excuses for not doing so, such as a faulty microphone or a noisy environment. If you receive such messages, it’s crucial to verify the identity of the person by contacting them through a trusted phone number.
Supermarket Voucher Scams
Scammers frequently exploit the popularity of supermarkets by offering fake vouchers through WhatsApp messages. These vouchers promise significant discounts, often for well-known retailers like M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, or Aldi. However, clicking on these links can lead to a variety of negative outcomes.
Some scams aim to collect personal information through seemingly endless surveys, while others may trick you into signing up for expensive text message services. In more malicious cases, clicking on the link may result in the installation of malware that collects data from your phone or even locks you out of your device. To protect yourself, it’s important to be cautious when clicking on any links and avoid providing personal information.
Verification and Security Codes Scam
This scam involves receiving a text message with a six-digit code from someone posing as a friend or acquaintance. The message may claim that they are locked out of their account and need your help to regain access. In reality, the code they are requesting is the verification code sent to your phone when setting up or logging into your own account.
By providing the code to the scammer, you inadvertently give them access to your account. They can then use your account to send messages to your contacts, potentially defrauding them as well. It’s important to be wary of any requests for verification codes and to only share them in legitimate and secure circumstances.
WhatsApp Gold ‘Premium’ Version Scam
The WhatsApp Gold scam involves messages inviting users to upgrade to a supposed premium version of the app. These messages often promise exclusive features used by celebrities and ask users to input their payment details to unlock the premium version. However, WhatsApp is a free app, and there is no legitimate premium version available.
This scam takes advantage of users’ curiosity and desire for enhanced features. It’s important to remember that WhatsApp will never ask for payment for its services. If you encounter such messages, it’s best to ignore them and avoid providing any personal or financial information.
WhatsApp is Expiring Scam
Scammers may send messages claiming that your WhatsApp account is expiring and that you need to click a link to reactivate it. These messages often create a sense of urgency, urging you to take immediate action to prevent your account from being deactivated. However, clicking on the link can lead to malicious websites or further attempts to defraud you.
It’s important to note that WhatsApp does not require users to reactivate their accounts in this manner. If you receive such a message, it’s best to ignore it and delete it immediately to avoid falling victim to the scam.
The Conversation Starter Scam
Some scammers take a different approach, trying to build a rapport with potential victims before attempting to defraud them. They may start a conversation with a simple question like “Who is this?” and continue the conversation by asking personal questions and paying compliments. The ultimate goal is to extract personal information that can be used for fraudulent purposes.
To avoid falling for this scam, it’s important to be cautious when engaging in conversations with unknown individuals on WhatsApp. Avoid sharing personal information and be wary of anyone who seems overly interested in your personal life or financial situation.
How to Spot and Avoid WhatsApp Scams
Protecting yourself from WhatsApp scams requires vigilance and knowledge about the warning signs. By recognizing the red flags, you can avoid becoming a victim of these fraudulent schemes.
They’re Asking for Personal Information
One common tactic used by scammers is to ask for personal information, such as your address, phone number, date of birth, passwords, bank card details, or mobile banking account numbers. Legitimate organizations and individuals would not request such information through WhatsApp. If someone asks for personal information, it’s a clear sign of a scam.
They Want You to Click a Link
Scammers often use urgency and fear to manipulate victims into clicking on malicious links. They may claim that your bank account has been compromised or that you have won a prize that requires immediate action. Be cautious of messages that pressure you to click on a link without providing sufficient context or explanation.
They Won’t Answer the Phone
If you suspect that a message or request might be a scam, try calling the person or organization using a trusted phone number. If they refuse to answer the phone or provide excuses for not talking, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate individuals or organizations would be willing to speak with you and address your concerns.
What to Do If You Encounter a WhatsApp Scam
If you come across a WhatsApp scam, it’s important to take immediate action to protect yourself and prevent further harm.
The first step is to ignore the scam message. Do not tap, reply, or forward the message to anyone else. By refraining from engaging with the scammer, you can prevent the scam from spreading further and potentially affecting others.
WhatsApp provides a mechanism for reporting scam messages. Visit the WhatsApp FAQ for details on how to report messages and block the sender’s number. Additionally, consider reporting the scam to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. Reporting scams helps raise awareness and helps authorities take action against fraudsters.
Change Your Number
If your phone number has been leaked or compromised, you may consider changing your number to prevent further scam messages. However, changing your number is not a foolproof solution, as scammers can obtain new contact information through various means. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and practice safe online habits to protect yourself from future scams.
As WhatsApp scams continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, it’s essential to stay informed and vigilant. By understanding the common scams and recognizing the warning signs, you can protect yourself and your finances from falling into the hands of scammers.
Remember to verify the identity of individuals, avoid sharing personal information, and report any suspicious messages. Stay safe and keep your WhatsApp conversations secure.
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