Avoid Scams by WhatsApp

Nov 18, 2020
WhatsApp scams have claimed millions of victims around the world. By far the most popular messenger on mobile phones, with more than 1.5 billion users, the app is the stage for spam of all kinds: memes, chains, promises of gifts and false promotions, discounts or coupons and, more recently, rumors and fake news.

Some go beyond bothering and misrepresenting reality with hoaxes and fake news, stealing data or inducing them to register their phone number with paid SMS services. The good news is that avoiding falling for fraud can be simple if you are a good observer.

Five security tips against scams on WhatsApp

Be wary of messages that have spelling or grammatical errors and that ask you to tap on a particular link to gain an advantage;

Avoid replying to messages that ask you to forward personal information such as: credit card number, bank account, birthday, password, etc;

Do not operate the network of lies. Avoid requests to forward the message;

Suggested (and shortened) links are dangerous, can lead to fake websites, malicious forms, installation of unsolicited APKs or even executable .exe files and plugins if using WhatsApp Web on the computer;

You will not need to pay to use WhatsApp, which is a free application. Avoid falling into this and other myths that promise new or premium features.

In addition to the tips, the platform offers a security section that explains some privacy and encryption features of WhatsApp.

Beware of chains

Because of end-to-end encryption, which protects the user and also the spammer, WhatsApp claims that it does not have the key that gives access to the content of messages. Therefore, it is not possible to track or block chains - the most common (and efficient) way in which WhatsApp scams are disseminated. The messenger also does not make a prior analysis of the links sent. It remains for the receiver to decide whether to open it or not.

It is true that WhatsApp tests a tough-guy who warns you when the message has been forwarded with a “forwarded many times” alert (shared many times, in Portuguese). The appeal, however, is still in the testing phase and has not been confirmed.

Scams on WhatsApp almost always spread lying information to provoke some type of behavior that will only be beneficial to the author. If a message seems suspicious or if the content is "too good to be true", take a break. Do not touch, share or forward without first analyzing the situation.

Report as spam

Chains may or may not come from people you know. If the message is from a number that is not in your phonebook, when you receive the first, you will have the option to report it as spam. You can report a number or group as a spammer. And why is this important? Because this is the only way that the complaint reaches the “moderation” of WhatsApp.

“We banned accounts that we believe to be in violation of our terms of service. We reserve the right to ban your account without prior notice. We use automated tools, and the information reported to us [via spam reports and terms of use violations] to decide about banning users, ”says the service’s FAQ.

But, if you received it from one of your contacts, help make the network better and let your friend or family know that it is a fraud. On your cell phone, delete the message and do not click / tap links or fill out forms with your data.

The credit-eating monster

If you are curious about the relationship between the disappearance of credits and the scams on WhatsApp, it is worth following the mechanics of crime. Messages that contain short links usually lead to fake websites or even replicas of websites, controlled by cybercriminals who suggest filling out forms in exchange for discount coupons, vouchers, access to curious videos or premium services for free.

That’s where the danger lies. The scammers’ gold is their cell phone number, in addition to their name, email and, in some cases, passwords and credit cards. If you fill in, your data is used to subscribe to services paid by SMS never requested such as sports games calendar, horoscope, messages and the like. Make a calm analysis of your mobile phone expenses in search of these account distortions.

Antivirus works in these cases?

The answer is yes and no. The mobile antivirus alerts you to malicious URLs already registered in your threat bank, causing the link suggested in the chain to be automatically blocked when opened in the browser. However, this type of scam is not a virus and is not under surveillance as it is in the case of malware. Another fact is that if the user insists on opening the link (which happens frequently) or does not keep the antivirus app up to date, there is nothing to do. The way is clear for digital scammers.

Top WhatsApp scams so you never fall

World Cup sticker album: the message that reached football fans of all ages says: “Hey, I just won a World Cup 2018 album with 100 stickers. Register and win yours too ”. The link leads to registration in SMS services. In other words, there is no sticker album and you still have a loss on your phone bill.

Orkut back: accepted, Orkut is over. And while founder Orkut Buyukkokten does a lot of interviews, that’s it. “We at Orkut are meeting users’ requests and freeing you to access your old profile for a limited time. To have access to your profile, answer the 3 questions below ”, he said. It’s SMS scam.

Retroactive FGTS: who doesn’t want money? The message said “Check if your name is on the list to withdraw the R $ 1,760 from FGTS. More than 7,200 people have already withdrawn the benefit ... ”A form captured personal data and still asked the user to share it with five more people before giving access to a false confirmation list.

Uber voucher: Uber has a recommendation system in which each user gets a link to distribute among friends and which are generally valid only for the first trip. But it is not what the chain promised. The message said "R $ 100 discount on your next trips." It looks good, doesn’t it? But it was phishing.

Easter Egg: Kopenhagen and Cacau Show are the brands that cause the most furor. To give legitimacy, the page asked cultural questions. It said: "I just won a gift card worth R $ 800 from the Easter promotion, there are still some available, take advantage and get yours on the website below". There was no chocolate.

Coupons and tickets: other companies like McDonalds, Burger King, TAM and Boticário are constantly used in scams that pretend to offer snacks, tickets and products that will never be free to attract victims. The tip is to doubt. Go to the official website or social network and confirm if there are any promotions going on.

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