Another day, another cautionary note about the alarming rise in scams. WhatsApp is now warning users to be wary of fake messages and providing tips on how to protect themselves.
Fraudsters appear to be so successful that they’re sending out more scam messages in the hopes of luring unsuspecting people into handing over their money or personal information.
In a UK survey conducted for WhatsApp in October 2021, 59% of respondents said they had received or know someone who had received a scam message in the previous year. Although 46% of these were sent via SMS, 13% were sent via WhatsApp. These figures appear to be rising.
Hackers could steal your money
WhatsApp’s new Stop. Think. Connect. campaign, which is being run in collaboration with Citizens Advice and National Trading Standards, specifically targets a few ‘friend in need’ scams that have been on the rise in the last year or so.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works:
- The scammer poses as a friend who has become stranded abroad and requires hundreds of pounds to return home.
- The scammer poses as a son who is begging for money.
- The scammer impersonates a daughter and claims that they have had to change their phone number. They then ask for assistance in paying a bill.
There are many variations on these scams, and the new campaign aims to raise awareness about them. If you’re suspicious, call the person and ask if the message is genuine. Is it true that they’re requesting money? Don’t assume that just because the message appears to be from someone you know, it actually is.
There’s no doubt that they’re on the rise. They aren’t always from people you are familiar with. Scammers frequently impersonate well-known companies and send fake delivery messages.
According to WhatsApp’s research, younger people (under 34) are 10 times more likely than older people to use text-based communication, putting them at greater risk of being scammed by such messages.
Previous research show people under the age of 34 are five times more likely to be scammed than people over the age of 34, who are more wary of clicking on links and sending personal information or money.
WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers. We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security. And if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.Kathryn Harnett, Policy Manager at WhatsApp
Such scams must be avoided by all users. Instead of replying on Whatsapp or sending money if you receive such a text from a friend’s number, call them directly and ask.