The Dark Side of WhatsApp: Common Scams and How to Stay Safe

WhatsApp Scams

With over 2 billion users globally, Whatsapp has become one of the most popular messaging apps. However, just like any other platform, Whatsapp also has a dark side filled with scammers and fraudsters looking to take advantage of unsuspecting users. In this blog, we deep dive into some of the most prevalent Whatsapp scams and provide tips to stay safe.

Whatsapp Scams

Here are some of the most prevalent scams being perpetrated on WhatsApp:

1. Verification Code Scams

This is one of the most common scams on WhatsApp. Scammers will message you pretending to be a friend or company representative asking you to verify a code they’ve sent you. The code is usually from 6-8 digits long. If you provide the code, the scammer can then access your Whatsapp account and message your contacts pretending to be you.

Never share any verification codes sent to you over WhatsApp with anyone else. Whatsapp will never ask you to share a verification code. If you receive such a request, it’s almost certainly a scam.

2. Tinder Verification Code Scams

Similar to the above, scammers on dating apps like Tinder will ask you to provide a verification code sent to you over WhatsApp. Sharing this code gives them access to your Tinder account, which they can then use to scam other users. Always be wary of requests to share verification codes from people you’ve just met online.

3. Technical Support Scams

You may receive a message claiming to be from Whatsapp technical support, stating there is an issue with your account that needs urgent attention. They’ll ask you to provide personal information or install software that can compromise your security. Real Whatsapp support will never message you proactively in this manner.

4. Urgency Scams

Watch out for messages conveying a false sense of urgency, like a friend needing money right away to deal with an emergency. Scammers exploit the fact that people are more likely to act rashly under pressure. Always verify an emergency directly with the friend in question before sending any money.

5. Romance Scams

Scammers target people looking for love and relationships online. They build emotional connections through sweet talk and promises of future meetings. Eventually, they ask for financial help for claimed emergencies, with the promise to pay it back. In reality, they have no intention to meet up or pay you back.

6. Impersonation Scams

Watch out for messages claiming to be from friends or loved ones stating they’ve lost their phone and are using a temporary number. Scammers exploit this excuse to pretend to be someone you know asking for personal information or money. Call your friend or family member using their known number to verify before falling for this scam.

7. Crypto Scams

With the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies, scammers have taken to WhatsApp to promote fraudulent crypto-related investments and products. Any offers of guaranteed high investment returns, free giveaways or unregistered crypto wallets are almost certainly scams.

8. Malware Scams

Beware of WhatsApp messages containing suspicious links or attachments, claiming they contain exclusive content. The links or files typically contain malware designed to infect your device and compromise your security. Never open unsolicited files or click links on WhatsApp from unknown contacts.

How to Stay Safe on WhatsApp

Here are some tips to help you stay secure on WhatsApp and avoid falling victim to scams:

  • Never share your Whatsapp verification codes with anyone, under any circumstances. Whatsapp will never proactively ask you for a code.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for added security on your account.
  • Be wary of any requests for financial assistance or personal data from unknown contacts. Always verify independently.
  • Enable Whatsapp privacy settings like controlling who can see your last seen, profile photo and status. This prevents scammers from profiling you.
  • Back up your Whatsapp data regularly so you have a safe copy if your account is ever compromised.
  • Be skeptical of any investment opportunities, giveaways or other offers that sound too good to be true on WhatsApp. It’s likely a scam.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments and downloading files from unknown contacts. This could expose you to malware.
  • Beware of romantic scams – take relationships slowly and watch for requests for financial assistance.
  • Search for numbers on Truecaller to identify potential spam and scams. Avoid unknown numbers claiming to be someone you know.
  • Report suspicious messages or accounts to WhatsApp directly to help curb scams on the platform.
  • Keep Whatsapp updated to the latest version to get important security fixes.
  • Use common sense to identify telltale signs of scams – poor grammar, threatening language insisting you act urgently are signs to watch out for.

How Scammers Hack Whatsapp Accounts

Now that we’ve explored common WhatsApp scams, how exactly are scammers able to hack into WhatsApp accounts in the first place? Here are some of the techniques they use:

1. SIM Swap Attacks

Scammers can conduct SIM swap attacks by contacting your mobile provider and pretending to be you, requesting your number be transferred to a SIM card they control. Once activated, any SMS based verification codes will be sent to them, letting them access your WhatsApp. Avoid using SMS for two-factor authentication to prevent this.

2. Malware and Spyware

Installing malware or spyware inadvertently through shady app downloads can allow scammers to access all data on your phone, including Whatsapp messages and codes. Stick to trusted app stores like the Google Play Store to avoid malware.

3. Phishing Attacks

Fake Whatsapp login pages can trick users into handing over their passwords and codes to scammers. Check URLs carefully and avoid entering credentials into unverified pages to prevent phishing attacks.

4. Social Engineering

Scammers exploit human psychology and trick unsuspecting users into handing over personal information or access out of goodwill. Stay vigilant against manipulation techniques. Never share sensitive data with unverified strangers.

5. Network Attacks

Unsecured WiFi networks can expose Whatsapp data to snooping. Avoid using public networks for sensitive transactions and enable WPA2 encryption on home networks.

6. Physical Access

If scammers can gain temporary physical access to your phone, they can install monitoring apps or access WhatsApp directly. Password protect and encrypt your device and be cautious about who handles your phone.

7. Social Media Footprinting

Scammers research potential targets extensively on social media, gathering info like phone numbers, email addresses and date of birth which aids in account takeovers. Minimize personal data shared publicly online.

By being aware of the techniques scammers employ, you can better secure your device and account from potential hacks or access misuse.

Avoiding WhatsApp Scammers and Fake Profiles

Here are some warning signs to watch out for to identify fake and scam accounts on WhatsApp:

  • Profile photo looks too perfect, artificial or taken from stock image sites. Real people generally use casual photos.
  • About section lacks personal details, filled with emojis or left empty.
  • Name uses odd characters like underscores, extra spaces or repeats similar names.
  • Status messages contain suspicious offers, promotions and links.
  • New account with very few contacts saved. Scammers regularly make new accounts.
  • Account handling seems very bot-like, with fast perfect replies.
  • Overly eager to move the conversation off WhatsApp to other mediums.
  • Profile not verified with Whatsapp’s blue checkmark system.
  • Basic agreement and interest in all your messages, does not challenge anything.
  • Aggressive pushing for personal information, bank account details, etc.
  • Poor grammar, spelling mistakes and message constructs are common in scammer accounts.

Checking for these signs can help identify sketchy accounts and prevent you from becoming a victim. Proceed with caution when interacting with unknown profiles that set off red flags or seem fake. Play it safe and avoid sharing any sensitive data with them.

Reporting Whatsapp Scams

If you encounter a scam or suspicious message on WhatsApp, you can report it directly in the app by following these steps:

  1. Open the individual or group chat where you received the suspicious message
  2. Tap and hold on to the concerning message to bring up options.
  3. Tap More > Report.
  4. Select why you’re reporting – options include spam, violence, impersonation, etc.
  5. Tap Report to submit your report to WhatsApp for review.

You can also report problematic profiles to WhatsApp as follows:

  1. Open the profile page of the account in question.
  2. Tap the three dots menu icon in the top right.
  3. Choose ‘Report contact’
  4. Select the reason for reporting and submit your report.

Taking a moment to report shady accounts and messages can help Whatsapp shut them down faster and stop others from falling victim.

Securing Whatsapp With Two-Factor Authentication

One of the best ways to protect your Whatsapp account is by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). Here are simple steps to set this up:

  1. Open Whatsapp Settings
  2. Select Account > Two-step verification > Enable
  3. Enter a six-digit PIN which you’ll need to enter periodically to access your account.
  4. Provide an email address to help reset your PIN if you forget it.
  5. Tap Next and confirm enabling 2FA.

With 2FA, any attempt to verify your phone number on a new device will require inputting your PIN, preventing unauthorized logins even if verification codes are compromised.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra essential layer of security to safeguard your Whatsapp account from scammers.

Staying Vigilant Against WhatsApp Scams

Whatsapp scams are growing increasingly complex as fraudsters get more tech-savvy. While the platform itself continues to bolster security, users need to remain vigilant as well. By learning to identify common scam techniques and exercising caution with sensitive data, you can avoid becoming the next victim. Enable security options like two-factor authentication. Be skeptical of any suspicious messages or account interactions. Verify urgencies directly with contacts before acting. And keep software up to date to receive critical security patches.

Stay alert on WhatsApp and immediately report any scams you come across before the fraudsters can prey on others. With caution and common sense, continue enjoying messaging with your loved ones through WhatsApp securely.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top