Protect Yourself From These 6 Scams on WhatsApp

If you regularly rely on WhatsApp to stay connected, being cautious about your safety is essential, especially considering the deceptive scams surrounding the popular messaging platform.

Here are six frauds prevalent on WhatsApp right now and what you can do to protect yourself against them.

1. Phishing

This is the practice of stealing useful data from individuals and organizations by misleading victims.

It can occur on multiple mediums—from emails to social media.

Phishing on WhatsApp is also fairly common. In fact, the platform accounts for 90% of attacks that take place on messaging apps.

You can experience these frauds in a variety of forms. Scammers could steal personal details under the guise of registering you for discounts and giveaways. Surveys that promise gifts and freebies for answering questionnaires are also among the most reported phishing scams.

Sometimes, they can involve less obvious techniques, such as malicious codes that phish for sensitive information.

The WhatsApp Gold scam that emerged several times in the past is an excellent example of a malware-based phishing scheme.

In this particular fraud, criminals circulated messages promoting WhatsApp Gold—an upgraded version of the popular platform that comes with extra features. A handful of users were allowed to test it before others by downloading it via a link.

However, this was a fake application that had nothing to do with WhatsApp. If you had installed it without realizing it was a hoax, the bogus app could have downloaded malware to steal information from your phone.

What can you do to avoid similar threats? The easiest way to protect yourself from phishing is by ignoring unverified messages and links.

If you are interested in a promotion or offer, research it first online and use a verified official site to access it.

Many reputed businesses are already aware of the risk of scammers impersonating their brands. So, chances are, they will have plenty of information about promotional campaigns on their official sites to help customers verify authentic deals and messages.

2. Loved-Ones-in-Distress Scams

A message from a close friend or family member in trouble is a source of alarm and anxiety for anyone. This creates the opportunity for bad actors to catch people off-guard and target them for financial theft.

This type of fraud usually involves a WhatsApp message from a loved one who has lost their phone or had it stolen. They urgently need money, so they send you an account number to wire some cash.

But these are impersonation tricks used by deceptive individuals looking to take advantage of your concern for your loved ones.

Of course, your friends and family could face a real emergency, too, and may reach out to you for financial help. So, knowing how to identify a scam from a genuine message is important.

Here are a few essential steps to take in those instances:

  • Call the relevant person on their regular number. If they answer the call and seem unaware of the message, rest assured it is part of a scam.
  • Reverse search the phone number on Nuwber and check who it belongs to.
  • Ask a question to which only your loved one would know the answer.
  • Make a video call.

3. Account Hijacking

To take over your WhatsApp account, criminals usually make a log-in attempt, triggering the platform to send you a unique verification code.

They then message you, apologizing for sending you the code by mistake, and ask you to forward the message to them.

Sometimes, scammers could pretend to represent the WhatsApp tech-support team and will request you to authenticate yourself by sharing the verification code.

If you do, they will use it to access and hijack your account. After that, they could steal your data or target your contacts for various scams.

To prevent this from happening, never share messages containing PIN codes with anyone. Apply two-factor authentication as an extra security layer to protect your account in case of a verification code breach.

4. Fake Jobs

From time to time, you may receive unsolicited job offers on WhatsApp. They could guarantee an attractive income, but at a small cost—you will need to make a payment to process your application.

These are deceptive ploys to scam job seekers with false promises and can be particularly effective during market slowdowns.

If you ever receive unexpected employment offers via WhatsApp, it is best to block the number without responding.

Remember, reputed employers who are serious about recruiting qualified candidates will never reach out with random messages. They will instead post their vacancies on their official channels or use a well-known job board or recruiter.

5. Investment Fraud

This is a prevalent scam on WhatsApp, where malicious actors offer lucrative investment opportunities, usually promising returns well above the market average.

Such messages have a higher chance of getting shared among users. This means you could receive them from people you know and trust as well.

Therefore, practicing caution is essential whenever you get an investment-related message, either forwarded by someone in your contact list or from the original sender.

Do not be misled by names of reputed firms or celebrities. Always rely on your own research to verify details.

Learn where your money is invested, how the promised return is generated, and the average yield for similar investments. In addition, find out about the promoters and the risks involved.

If you can’t find sufficient information online about the investment program via credible sources, you have likely come across a deceptive scheme.

6. Loan Scams

Fraudulent loan schemes on WhatsApp surge during economic downturns.

These messages typically offer quick loans at rock-bottom rates with minimum documentation to attract unsuspecting victims. All you must do to submit an application is click a link and enter your personal details.

But these are identity theft scams that could expose you to numerous financial frauds once your personally identifiable information is compromised.

Another variation is loan offers that request a processing fee together with the application. These allow fraudsters to steal both your data and money.

Final Thoughts

You can encounter scams on WhatsApp in a variety of ways. Therefore, remaining vigilant and practicing caution is crucial for identifying red flags and protecting yourself from nefarious individuals.

Never respond if you suspect a message is related to a fraud. Block it immediately to prevent its sender from contacting you again. You can also report it to WhatsApp by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of the screen.

As an added precaution, adjust your settings to prevent those outside your contact list from viewing your profile information.