With more than 900 million active users, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in the world. Facebook acquired the app in February 2014.
WhatsApp Messenger is a great instant messaging app for smartphones that can be used to send texts, images, video and audio media messages. Criminals are also privy to this app and it’s popularity and have come up with various ways to attack its users.
Be aware of emails that appear to be from the company. The Better Business Bureau is warning that there is a scam targeting WhatsApp users to infect devices with malware to steal personal and financial information.
There are actually other scams going around with WhatsApp including:
- Fake Admin Scam – as described above, you will get a text or email message. This message is supposedly from the WhatsApp admin.
- New Feature Scam – there is a new voice call system that allows you to make voice calls. The new scam targets this new feature. You may receive a link that states something like “Please click here to activate the new voice calling feature.” This link leads to unwanted software being downloaded on your device.
- Investing in Stocks – This new scam targets people who are interested in buying stocks online and finding stock trader opportunities. If you get a text message from someone at an investment firm and looks like it was sent to the wrong person on accident, beware. It is not a lead on the latest money making stock. This scheme utilizes “pump and dump” where a stock is promoted to drive up the price based on artificial interest and then sells before everyone realizes the interest is not real.
- Voicemail Scam – you will receive an email that you have a voicemail. The email includes a “play” button to listen to your message. This button will take you to a malicious site that will download a file on your Android phone. The software will then send messages to premium rate phone numbers and try to get you to download another harmful app. This scam does not work on Macs.
- Contact Card – There is another scam announced by Facebook that users may receive a message from an unknown contact with a contact card share. Do not call the contact card, as you will be charged premium rates that will drain your airtime in seconds. You may also get a high bill at the end of the month claiming you subscribed to a service. Delete this immediately.
Avoiding These WhatsApp Scams
WhatsApp does not send email notifications on voicemails or any other services, so if you get an email, do not click on the “play” button in an email. Do not download anything from external links until you get an official message from WhatsApp to upgrade through iTunes or GooglePlay.
WhatsApp says that it does not email users unless it was a response to a customer request, so always be leery of emails and do not click on links.
In addition, WhatsApp will not send you an email about payment, changes, photos or videos. Also be cautious about contents that include a reward or gift including extended or free subscriptions. WhatsApp works on a yearly service model. Never forward a message to another user as some messages may request – this even more dangerous since it comes from you and you are exposing your contacts to possible malicious attacks.
If you receive any of these messages, disregard and delete them. You can always block the sender to avoid additional messages.
Spotting A Con
Here are other tips to avoid other possible scams on phone apps like WhatsApp:
- Get antivirus software for your phone.
- Apps communicate through the app or your app supplier like iTunes. This includes updates and bug fixes. Any other communication medium such as email should be regarded as harmful.
- Look for poor grammar and the reply email addresses that do not match the business name. Don’t call a number listed in an email or visit the website listed until you know for sure an offer is real. You can easily search the Internet to see if an offer is legit or not.
Be sure you share these scams with family and friends and pass the word around. As always, if you are in doubt, never click on any links or believe any offer you receive. Your intuition is a good fraud spotter along with further investigation. Always think before you act.