WhatsApp is now the most popular messaging platform and for that very reason it is becoming attractive for countless scammers. It is very common for users to get scam messages related to investment, fake updates, fake offers etc. Cyber criminals are ready to strike and you must prepare yourself to not fall into their traps.
Now, how do you avoid fake WhatsApp versions?
Make sure that you install WhatsApp only from Google Play or Apple Store or the official website or from the link from sent to you by WhatsApp. If you are not sure whether the WhatsApp you have on your phone is a legit one, delete/uninstall the app and then download again from App stores that are approved.
1. Fake voicemail
Source of the scam: www.business2community.com
This WhatsApp scam, quite common, is just like a fake voicemail — all you have to do is click on it! If you get one, it will come with a subject line: “Incoming Voice Message”. If you click that, hackers will instantly have access to your personal information, and in some cased lock you out of your smartphone!
2. WhatsApp Gold edition
Source of the scam: Social media
The WhatsApp Gold edition is very common WhatsApp scam! It is promoted via social media networks telling users that WhatsApp has launched a premium version of the app. It comes with fancy emoticons and customized backgrounds. However, if you fall for it and sign up for this fake WhatsApp upgrade, you’ll be charged $40 dollars per month. In addition, an updated version of WhatsApp Gold scam called “WhatsApp Elegant Gold” is also in circulation. This scam often leads victims to a website page that asks for their phone number in order to upgrade to the latest version which is “better” than the “standard” WhatsApp app.
3. WhatsApp’s Spy
Source of the scam: gizmostorm.com
You must be aware by now that there are actually apps that can spy on phone users through WhatsApp. Sadly, if you just Google “WhatsApp Spy”, you’ll find a good number of articles explaining how to spy on others, instead of teaching how to protect innocents against invasion of privacy. Here comes the revelations! All these so-called helpful apps that would allow you to spy on others are the ones that will spy on you. A majority of these “spy apps” are scams loaded with malware ready to grab info from your phone. So, if, ever, you are tempted to use such “WhatsApp spy apps”, you will be spied on instead of spying on anyone!
4. The $500 Starbucks gift card
Source of the scam: www.hongkongfp.com
This WhatsApp scam ask innocent victims to fill out survey forms for a $500 Starbucks gift card, claiming that it is officially sponsored by Starbucks.
Similar scams exists for others like McDonald’s, IKEA, H&M, KFC, 7-Eleven & Zara, besides others. These scams are multi-lingual, putting at rick a large number of people over a large area. In short, this WhatsApp Gift Card scam is just another way of stealing your personal information by scammers who give you false hope.
5. Investment fraud
Source of the scam: Mainly via social media and SMSes
Many scammers are also involved in sending WhatsApp users a compelling message such as investment plans and recommending stocks. Some of these messages recommends people to invest in Avra Inc., Invest in Goa, Invest in Real Estate etc,. where they will be able to double or triple their money in a matter of few days. These scammers main aim is to raise the value of certain stocks or businesses – a process called “pump and dump” — so that they can pull out from their own their investments when it is at a peak price.
Now, How to Identify WhatsApp Scam
WhatsApp scams are real. But, you should not be afraid from using the popular messaging app. It is useful and fun to reach out to friends and families… and that too for free. Just keep in mind these pints to keep phone safe from hackers: –
1. Always be skeptical of any message that comes from WhatsApp
You should see red if you receive messages like giveaways, freebies and lottery wins. When you get messages from an unknown number directly via WhatsApp ask yourself several questions before you reply. Also, if you see some messages that’s too convincing, question it and you will be right most of the time that such messages are scams. Remember, WhatsApp never sends its users messages. As WhatsApp clearly declares on its website: “We do not use WhatsApp to contact you.”
2. Beware of messages seeking personal info
WhatsApp and most legit mobile apps do not solicit personal info. If you are not sure about a message you receive, just go to WhatsApp official website and send them an email to verify it.
3. You Don’t Buy Lottery Tickets or Enter a Contest, How Can You Be a Winner?
Unless you know that you did entered into contest or bought a lottery ticket, any winner announcement that comes to your phone is a fraud. Plainly speaking, it’s a scam! Such messages will try to convince you about your $500 win for doing really nothing. Beware of the saying: “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is”.
4. Never ever share your MAC or IMEI number
If you are using an Android-based phone, you will have an IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity), and if you are using an iPhone, your phone is equipped with a MAC (media access control) address. And your WhatsApp account is directly linked to these special numbers, so it is like a password for your WhatsApp account. If, ever, a hacker gets access to your phone number and MAC or IMEI, they will easily hack into your WhatsApp account.
Despite all the security efforts and being really careful we often overlooked at minor details. That’s why it is important to install a reliable anti-malware app on your smart phone. Don’t let this post drive you away from using the latest and greatest mobile apps, it’s just a reminder to keep prepared for the worst case scenario.
If you know more about WhatsApp scams or have tips to share, please do it in the comment box. All the best!