cyber security

Infographic: Tips to Protect Yourself from WhatsApp Scams

Whatsapp scams header image, green with text that reads: Quick Tips to Avoid WhatsApp Scams
Scams infographic by jay ross

How do scammers know who to message on WhatsApp?

Many scammers obtain phone numbers through illegal databases or by harvesting information publicly available online. Phone numbers can also be guessed, since they often follow certain patterns based on locations. Scammers send messages to large numbers of people, hoping someone will fall for their scams.

What are some common WhatsApp scams?

A few common WhatsApp scams include impersonation scams where someone pretends to be a family member or friend needing help, romance scams where scammers build fake relationships to ask for money, and service charge scams where fraudulent messages claim you owe money for a service. No legitimate business will demand payment or personal details through WhatsApp.

How can I tell if a message is from a scammer?

Scammers often contact their targets impersonating others, so be wary of unsolicited messages from unknown numbers, even if they claim to be someone you know. Hover over any links before clicking to check the URL, and avoid downloading attachments or responding to strange requests for money or sensitive details. Contact the supposed sender through a verified method if you have doubts. Vague or inconsistent stories are also red flags of a potential scam.

What should I do if I receive a scam message?

If you receive a scam message, do not respond or engage with the sender, as this confirms your number is active and eligible for further targeting. Do not open attachments or click on any links, as they could contain malware. You can report the number and message to WhatsApp as spam or block the contact. (You can block suspicious messages directly on the chat screen) Keep in mind that discussing the dangers of scam calls with friends and family can also raise awareness and protection.

How can I protect my WhatsApp account from being hacked?

Enabling two-factor authentication is one of the best defenses against account takeovers on WhatsApp. This adds an extra layer of security beyond just a password by requiring a dedicated authentication app or SMS code when logging in. Avoid clicking unsolicited links or downloading suspicious files that could enable harmware on your device. Use a strong and unique password for your WhatsApp login. Always be vigilant of phishing attempts impersonating trusted contacts or services.

How do I spot a romance scam on WhatsApp?

Romance scammers tend to professes strong feelings very quickly, often telling over-the-top stories to lower inhibitions. They will find excuses not to meet in person or do video calls. Scam victims are typically asked for money, gifts, or personal details. No real friend or romantic prospect would ask for financial help, especially not right away. Be wary of profiles without detailed information or many shared friends. Reverse image searches can help verify if a photo has been reused across fraudulent accounts. Trust warning signs over promises.

What personal information should I avoid sharing on WhatsApp?

The most sensitive information to avoid disclosing on WhatsApp includes full legal name, date of birth, address, ID numbers like passport or drivers license, financial details like bank account or credit card numbers.

Location services should also be disabled when not in active use. Scammers can exploit personal details for identity theft, financial fraud and other harms. Only share necessary contact information with people you truly know and trust online. Limit what you reveal about home or work routines as well.

How can I tell if a job offer over WhatsApp is legitimate?

Legitimate employers will rarely, if ever, conduct an entire hiring process over WhatsApp. Most unsolicited job offers over instant messaging should be treated with suspicion. Beware of any role that doesn’t require an interview, previous experience or skills test related to the work. Offers that ask for money upfront or that cannot provide verifiable company details like an address, phone number or website are probably scams. Never accept mystery shopping, secret shopping or mystery shopper jobs without thorough vetting of the company.

How do I stay safe from WhatsApp scams targeting gift card purchases?

Gift card scams may involve messages claiming you’ve won a prize and just need to pay a small “tax” or “processing fee” first with iTunes, Google Play or other gift cards. No legitimate contest or lottery will ever require gift cards as the sole method of payment. Scammers often pose as government agencies, banks or other authorities too. Always confirm an identity directly before acting on a request to purchase cards for someone else, particularly someone you don’t personally know. Do not trust instructions that bypass due diligence.

What steps can protect a WhatsApp business account from fraud?

Some best practices for business owners include restricting unknown users from contacting the page, enabling two-factor authentication, avoiding promotion of gift cards or money transfers conducted off-platform.

Message requests for purchases, shipping information or account access should prompt follow-ups by official website or calls rather than through WhatsApp alone. Be extremely wary of urgent messages that pressure employees into transferring funds. Provide anti-scam training for staff. Report suspected fraud and impersonation promptly. Ultimately have contingencies for potential service disruptions.

How can I verify if a charity request over WhatsApp is genuine?

Legitimate charities generally provide official websites where donors can research causes, transparency reports and donation options. Be hesitant of emergency or time-sensitive appeals only conveyed through messaging platforms. Check guidance from regulators like FTC official website, or before responding to a new charity you’ve not previously supported. Major disasters are often covered extensively by mainstream media too where an authentic charity’s work could be cross-checked. Requests for immediate bank transfers are higher risk than established payment processors. Get contact details and do due diligence before donating to avoid funding potential scams.

In summary, how can I protect myself from WhatsApp scams overall?

While scammers may message from anywhere, the best lines of defense come from vigilance with your own information and technology.

Install the latest software and app updates that include security patches. Double check stories, links and files shared over WhatsApp before interacting, keeping in mind scammers will press for urgency or present a friendly persona to bypass your caution.

Educating friends and family about common schemes through straightforward discussion creates awareness that stops more scams in their tracks too. Maintaining a questioning mindset and healthy degree of skepticism go a long way in safeguarding against potential harm.