WhatsApp’s users need to be aware of the emerging 2021 hijack scam. Scammers have begun posing as friends to gain valuable data and take over your WhatsApp. This article will take you through the WhatsApp hijack scam, tips to protect your WhatsApp, and other scams to be aware of.
What Is The WhatsApp Hijack Scam?
If you get a strange SMS message from your friend about accidentally sending you an access code, it’s a red flag! These messages will appear to be from your good friend or family members, but it is, in fact, a scam. Here’s a breakdown of how the scam usually works:-
- You’ll receive a WhatsApp message or SMS with your six-digit security code without having requested it. An example of this kind of message would be:
“Your WhatsApp Code is 101-010,
Don’t share this code with others.”
- Then, the Scammer will either contact you via an already hacked WhatsApp (and pose as your friend) or even via other social media sites.
- They will usually say something like:
I sent you a SMS code, can you send it to me please!”
- If you send them the code – your WhatsApp and all of its data, including your friends’ list, is theirs to manipulate.
Why Are Scammers Moving To WhatsApp?
According to Oberlo, WhatsApp has a total of 2 billion users around the world. With a hefty 13 million downloads in April 2021 alone. When 100 billion messages are being shared daily, scammers see an opportunity to exploit your contact list. Then they can access their money or gather information for a more extensive cyberattack (usually more money).
Tips on Protecting Your WhatsApp Account
Here are some things to keep an eye out for or do to protect your WhatsApp and your devices in general:-
- Regardless of who asks for it, never share any codes, OTPs, personal, or financial information
- When in doubt – ring your friend or family member for confirmation
- Don’t reply to unrecognised numbers
- Avoid clicking random links as they could install malware onto your device, be 100% sure that it is from a loved one
- Check the messages for spelling errors – or things that seem out of the ordinary from certain friends
- If it is pretending to be from a well-known company, they would never ask for details via SMS or message
- Apply multi-factor authentication to your devices to make it harder for hackers to gain access
- Urgency is rare – if anyone claims they need to receive payment or information “urgently,” that is a significant warning sign. Companies and loved ones can usually wait for the information.
How to Handle a WhatsApp Scam In 3 Steps?
Hopefully, you’re reading this article as a means of prevention, but unfortunately, everyone is susceptible to getting scammed. So here is what you should do as soon as it happens:-
- Inform WhatsApp – Contact WhatsApp and tell them immediately that your account has been hacked or that you have given away valuable information. They should be able to access your account and change passwords. This is also important for reporting the details of the scam so that they are aware of future threats.
- Bank Details & Other Personal Information – Quickly phone your bank and tell them what has happened, if you have sent money to a scammer. If a scammer has hijacked your WhatsApp, it’s probably wise to change passwords for all your online accounts and warn your contact list too!
- Contact The Police – For those in the UK that have fallen victim to a cybercrime, contact action fraud, or ring the number 101!
Other WhatsApp Scams To Be Aware Of
It’s not just the Hijack scam that has been circulating. Here are some other cons to keep note of:-
- Scammers can pose as friends or family asking you to “pay a bill.”
- They can get into voicemail to gain access to the WhatsApp verification code
- Direct transfer requests from friends, family, or unknown numbers
- If you receive a random message that asks you to tap on a link, especially if it is to “activate a new feature.”
- If you receive a message saying you need to pay for WhatsApp, just know that it is a free App!
Summary of How to Fortify Your WhatsApp
You can rest assured that your WhatsApp and your device is as protected as possible by:-
- Create long device passwords – Aim for above 12 characters and use multi-factor authentication.
- Avoid Sharing Info – Not codes, OTPs, nothing. Even if it is a ‘friend’ or ‘relative’ who asks for it.
- Scammers Don’t Pick Up The Phone – Ring people to make sure unless it is an unknown number.
- Never Write Down Personal Info – Whether you are talking to your friend, colleague, or specific company. Only give the details when you have called their number specifically, not via SMS or WhatsApp.
Lastly, signs like spelling errors when it’s from a friend who has flawless grammar (or vice versa). Using more emojis than they typically would when asking for something and asking for personal details urgently.
Hopefully, this article has helped you detect the WhatsApp hijack scam more clearly to protect your data and your loved ones’ information.
For more details check out the WhatsApp Help Centre.
About Mustard IT, your security partner
Mustard IT is a trusted team, experienced in security and able to explain complex issues to you in a language you’ll understand. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.