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Use WhatsApp? Look out for these scams

Published 18 February 2016 by

Nowadays our phones play an important role in keeping us up-to-date with those nearest and dearest to us and this is something that scammers have picked up on. With more than a billion users worldwide, fraudsters are now targeting the popular messaging service WhatsApp.

Scammers are using WhatsApp to try and trick you into giving out your personal information or install malicious software onto your phone. To make sure you know the tactics that they’re using to try and get you to do this, take a look at the following scams:

Voicemail hoax

If you keep in regular contact with your loved ones via WhatsApp, then you may think nothing of receiving an email that says you have a voicemail waiting for you. But when you click the button to listen, you won’t be led to a voicemail recording but to a suspicious website that tries to install malware onto your phone.

Remember: any voice messages that you receive will be delivered to the app itself and not sent to you in a separate email – so don’t fall for it! To find out how to avoid other so-called ‘phishing’ scams like these, click here.

Voucher con

One scam that is being reported more and more sees a message come through on an already existing thread between you and one of your friends. The message promises you a discount at a supermarket or retailer (Zara has already been a target of this) – all you have to do is click on the link to fill in a short survey. The link will take you to a counterfeit website which will send your details straight to scammers as soon as you start to fill them in.

This can be a hard scam to spot as the message comes through as if sent by one of your friends, but be on the lookout for any messages that seem out of character for the sender. If you’re ever in doubt, send a text back to them to check if the message was indeed intended for you – if they’re unaware of sending the message you’ll know it’s a scam.

Fee-paying scam

WhatsApp has recently announced that it will no longer charge a subscription fee for its users. With that in mind, there are number of scams that are trying to con people out of their money by making them pay for additional features that don’t even exist.

One sees the advertisement of WhatsApp Gold, an exclusive service that comes with special emoticons personalised for you. It’s not hard to see why someone would download this if they’re looking for a premium service, but what they’re downloading instead is a fee-paying messaging service, leaving them paying for every single message that they send out.

Another scam comes in the form of an app called WhatsApp Spy that claims it can allow you to see what your friends are saying to each other on the messaging service. Of course this is not true, as there’s no way that you can listen in to other people’s conversations on WhatsApp, and downloading this will simply sign you up to a fee-paying messaging service.

Don’t let curiosity get the better of you when it comes to situations like this – if something sounds too good to be, it probably is.

What WhatsApp says

In light of these emerging scams, WhatsApp has reiterated that it does not send messages out to its users. It warned in particular against messages received via the app or through email that:

• Claim to be affiliated with WhatsApp

• Include instructions to forward the message

• Claim you can avoid punishment (like account suspension) if you forward the message

• Claim to include a reward or gift

If you receive a message that you believe to be suspicious, WhatsApp recommend that you block the sender and delete the messages. You should report any scams to Action Fraud as well.

Image credit: ymgerman /