Do you have WhatsApp on your smartphone? If so, you’re one of the 1 billion people who live in 180 countries and chose WhatsApp as their communications platform. Free calls and messages, photos, videos and documents exchange, what can be wrong with it? Well, scammers also like the most popular messaging application in the world and they have their own reasons.
Every once in a while they come up with a new fraud strategy affecting WhatsApp users. They misuse the app to spread scams, viruses and hoax messages. With such a large amount of people who love and trust the app, they actually have a very high chance of getting a huge profit out of it.
We do not want you to be one of those people who fall prey to online scammers. In fact, we want to stop it all together. And you can contribute by not only reading this blogpost yourself, but sharing it with all your friends and just everyone you know. Read this article till the end to find out what dangerous message you should delete immediately and how to protect yourself from WhatsApp scam. (Give us a thumbs up if you agree its important to stay alert to keep your smartphone and bank details secure)
WhatsApp malware of spring, 2016
In its nearly 10 years of history, WhatsApp has become a target of scammers quite a few times. If you have been with it for a while, you probably remember some of them. In spring 2016, for example WhatsApp users were invited to download the ‘exclusive’ version of the app called WhatsApp gold. It promised future users the ability to send hundreds of pictures at once, new emojis, video calling and super security features.
Scammers said this app has been previously available only to celebrities, so those who want to join the high society follow the link to the download page on the app website where they got their mobiles infected with malware. That malware could steal data and track movements and activity of those using it.
Later the same year, scammers sent out messages offering 100 GBP ($130) give vouchers for Sainsburys, a chain of super markets in the UK. Messages had malicious links on them following which helped criminals to collect personal data, install tracking cookies and advertising browser extensions to the victims’ phones.
‘Subscription expired’ malware
Now please pay close attention to what we are about to tell you. If you get the following message via WhatsApp, delete it immediately and don’t do what it wants you to. The message says “Your subscription has expired. To verify your account and purchase a lifetime subscription for just 0.99 GBP simply tap on this link.”
It might be put in a slightly different words, but the idea remains the same: ‘WhatsApp wants you to pay for using it’ and it is officially a SCAM! We know you wanna keep WhatsApp on your phone and it might be okay with paying a little amount of money for the joy of it, but please, don’t do it. Instead disregard the message, delete it and block the sender.
Why do many people believe it?
This is because if you have been using WhatsApp for a few years, you probably remember that there used to be a subscription fee of around 99 cents. However after Whatsapp has been purchased by Facebook, it became free. It is so since January 2016 and it is unlikely to change any time soon.
Why is following the link dangerous?
You might think paying those 99 cents is not going to do much harm to your budget. Well, it is not what the criminals actually want from you. They’re after all the money you have on your bank account. If you follow the link in the message, you’ll be asked to update your payment information. If you do so, you voluntarily hand over your bank account to criminals; it sounds terrible, right?
The good news is you can protect yourself from all these by following some easy tips. First, here is what WhatsApp itself recommends. You should look out for the following points when you suspect a fraud:
(i) The sender is reassuring you he’s affiliated with WhatsApp.
(ii) The message is telling you to forward it to others.
(iii) The message claims that if you forward it, you can avoid account suspension and other types of electronic punishment.
(iv) The message promises you a reward or gift from WhatsApp or other companies.
5 things to keep in mind to avoid WhatsApp scam
We have put together a list of 5 things you should keep in mind not to become a victim of WhatsApp fraud.
WhatsApp is free and it doesn’t want you to forward messages to other people
99% of the messages you’re asked to forward on WhatsApp are spam. We often do it because it is a matter of seconds. However, forwarding a message can not do anyone much good except for the scammers. A famous WhatsApp hoax made people forward a certain message to 10 other users saying they’ll be from new subscription fees if they do it. Just think of it: how can forwarding messages save a company from the financial crisis? If there is ever a subscription fee everyone will have to pay it no matter if you forward messages or not.
Some scammers go creative and invent new apps’ founders’ names, they send messages on their fake behalf. Some David D. Suretech for example used to threaten to deactivate all inactive users to make room for new efficient subscribers. People were promised they would remain free users and get the app icon change color into blue or red if they informed 10 others on their contact list. Real WhatsApp management never wants you to forward anything, remember.
Never click the links in WhatsApp messages
Never click the links in WhatsApp messages forwarded to you without double-checking, even if it comes from a non-resource. If the company that is offering you an amazing deal in a WhatsApp message sounds familiar to you, there is a good chance the scammers know it as well. In other words, they might use that company’s name to make it look legit and have you follow the link trusting the name, it might be real though. To find out if that is so, simply google it. Only believe official company websites or even make a phone call to be sure. chances are you will find many similar requests or news of scam online.
Confirm an ‘official’ message from WhatsApp
If you receive an official message from WhatsAp, confirm its authenticity with them. The best way to stay away from hoax messages from WhatsAp and viruses is to check with them. You can describe your problem in the ‘contact us’ tab or use the contact email at their official website. WhatsApp is also interested in becoming a safer place, so that they will appreciate your contribution to fighting scammers.
Messages with links from unknown are likely to be infected
Do you have spam protection and antivirus installed on your smartphone? If you don’t, it is a great idea not to download anything which comes from a link in a WhatsApp message. Such content will eat up your mobile data, take up your smartphone space and it can even get access to your personal data. The best and only safe place to get a valid app is app store or google play store.
Strange messages from someone you know
If you’re unsure of the message you receive is real or has safe content, but it comes from someone you know, cross-check with them. Today many of us find it easier to click, forward or do whatever the message is telling you than to talk to the sender. This is how fraud chains grow. So before taking any action talk to the person who sent the message to you. Ask them if they really sent you the message or forwarded it without checking the source.
While WhatsApp is doing its best to create and ensure a safe communication space, some scammers still manage to break their defense. So the best thing you can do is stay alert and follow these simple rules.
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