There are over two billion WhatsApp users across the world. Thus, it’s among the most popular messaging apps in the world. As a result, many people exploit WhatsApp for scams and other illicit activities.
These WhatsApp scammers steal your data; some WhatsApp scams also happen through dating apps. They go as far as reaching you via text or phone, impersonating an innocent person.
Sometimes, the scammers would request money and threaten to harm you or your loved one if you don’t give them the money they asked for.
However, these culprits might be challenging to detect. But that’s not a problem because that is what the article seeks to solve. We’ll be discussing the top WhatsApp scams and how you can avoid them!
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What Are WhatsApp Scams?
WhatsApp scams are fraudulent or illegal ways cybercriminals or scammers hack into someone’s WhatsApp. The purpose behind this is usually unlawful and fraudulent.
Even though WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted (which makes it secure), users risk falling for other WhatsApp scams.
This fraud can trick you into disclosing personal or financial information like credit card numbers, passwords, or Social Security Numbers.
Again, scammers could lure you into clicking malicious links. And these malicious links are harmful to your device because they contain a virus/malware that can be used to access your information.
But the negative side is that once your data is stolen, these fraudsters can use it to access your financial details, email, or social media accounts. They may even use your identity to apply for loans or credit cards.
Read also: How To Check Others WhatsApp Call History
Can You Be Scammed on WhatsApp?
Yes, you can be scammed on WhatsApp. Every WhatsApp user is exposed to potential scams from cybercriminals. But the question is, what are you doing to protect yourself online?
These cybercriminals use various techniques to hack into users’ accounts. So, you have to be proactive to maintain a healthy online experience.
How To Detect WhatsApp Scams
The rate of WhatsApp text message scams has increased over the years. Thus, it may not be easy to detect them if you do not know how to go about it.
Fortunately, many cybercriminals use the same approaches. And understanding these approaches can help reduce your risk of falling prey to them.
Below are ways to detect WhatsApp message scams:
1. Messages often have grammatical errors.
One way to detect WhatsApp message scams is by checking for spelling and grammar errors. Messages from legal businesses or individuals will be void of grammar mistakes. But if you receive a text message with errors requesting you to take action or click a link, it’s likely a scam.
2. Request that you take action immediately.
Texts from cyber criminals are usually alarming, saying your account has been disabled and asking you to take immediate action to regain it.
3. The texts are from unknown numbers.
Most times, these fraudulent messages come from unknown numbers. So, quickly do a Google search to check that the number aligns with who they claim to be. You may discover that the number does not match the company that the message claims to be.
4. Malicious links.
Another way to detect WhatsApp message scams is through malicious links. These scammers can hack your device through malicious links or redirect you to a fake website to hijack your information.
So, be cautious of links from unknown numbers that redirect to sites you don’t know or visit. Although some links may look familiar, they might have spelling errors and additional numbers or letters.
5. Messages that randomly say you won a giveaway.
Some WhatsApp fraudulent messages will say you won a random giveaway, something you never participated in. And they will ask you to share your data to claim your prize or click a link.
6. You get texts from an unusually long phone number.
Getting an offer from an unknown long number is likely a scam. Also, some scammers might call you on WhatsApp; however, this is not common.
Check out: How to Read Deleted Messages On WhatsApp
Top WhatsApp Scams
WhatsApp scammers can use different approaches to gain access to your account for illegal purposes. Here, we’ll explain the most common WhatsApp text message scams.
1. Compromised apps
Although WhatsApp doesn’t have unauthorized versions on App Store and Play Store, some downloadable applications have hidden spyware.
And when you download such compromised apps, messages with links to the download page will be sent to other WhatsApp users on your device. Hence, making them fall prey to the spyware/malicious app.
2. WhatsApp hijacking
This scam allows cybercriminals to control your WhatsApp profile and use it for illicit activities. It involves getting your phone number.
Afterward, the predator installs WhatsApp on their device, contacts you and, pretends to be your friend, then obtains your account verification code.
Again, they will continue calling you and saying the code was sent by mistake until you send them the verification code.
3. Impersonation scam
This is one of the most familiar WhatsApp text message scams. Here, the scammer poses as your family member, friend, loved one, or acquaintance.
Then they contact you with an unknown number saying your profile picture looks familiar. Immediately, they will request money from you, stating an emergency.
To make it look more natural, the scammer may use pictures of a friend they saw on social media. Or, they could use stuff you posted on your social media handle.
4. Kidnapping scam
One scary scam fraudsters will use to extort money from you is by pretending they just kidnapped a family member or relative. They achieve this by hacking into the supposed family member’s or relative’s phone and using it to text you.
In this case, call the person in question outside WhatsApp. If it becomes a significant concern, contact the police.
5. Romance scam
Most WhatsApp scams come through romance on dating apps like Tinder. Once they discover your quest for love, they exploit that opportunity.
How does it work? These fraudsters use contact details obtained from dating apps and force those victims into believing that they love them and are in a romantic relationship with them.
Afterward, they exploit the opportunity to extort money from them for frivolous things; then promise to meet with them physically.
6. Financial scams
Financial WhatsApp scams are one of the most disturbing experiences. Scammers could add you to a WhatsApp group or impersonate your bank.
However, banks have continued to tighten their security protocols to keep their customers from fraud.
So if you receive any WhatsApp message or call from someone claiming to be from your financial institution, ignore the message or hang up the call. Then report to your bank.
7. Malicious links
This scam method allows fraudsters to do a mass distribution of links. And these malicious links redirect users to their browsers to complete a survey, promising a reward afterward.
Furthermore, this survey requires that victims enter personal information like email addresses, names, bank details, and residential addresses. Then, the cybercriminal sells these details to third parties.
8. Tinder WhatsApp scams
WhatsApp text message scams also happen on dating apps like Tinder. Here, the scammer texts you on Tinder to initiate a conversation.
When you request to meet them physically, they’ll give excuses for why they can’t meet you yet. They could tell you they’re sick, at school, or working.
After a continuous conversation, they will request that you both continue chatting on WhatsApp, and you should give them your WhatsApp number. Afterward, you’ll give them your contact in excitement because that will keep your conversation going.
Along the line, they’ll ask you for money; they may say they don’t have a charger to charge their phone, and they want to talk with you.
So, these cybercriminals will keep chatting with you on WhatsApp until they get your money. They’ll feed you false stories about why they need the money and how urgent it is.
Immediately you give them the money; you won’t hear from them anymore.
Read this article: 10 Best WhatsApp Group Games to Increase Engagement In 2023
How To Avoid WhatsApp Scams
Knowing how to avoid WhatsApp text message scams is the first step to maintaining a healthy online space. So, below are several ways to avoid scammers on WhatsApp.
- Report and block any suspicious WhatsApp number/account.
- Ignore any message asking you to share a verification code.
- Set up two-factor authentication. It protects your WhatsApp account from hackers trying to access it from another device.
- Ignore any message asking you to share your personal information, bank details, or Social Security Number. Remember, banks or government agencies never text or call you on WhatsApp.
- Beware of messages from unknown numbers asking you for money. Ensure you contact that friend or family the scammer claims to be before taking action.
- Don’t click malicious links; always check the business’s official site the link claims to come from before taking action.
- If someone is impersonating your family member or friend, closely observe the spelling and grammar. This is to know if they’re who they claim to be.
Yes. Get information about the scam, including chats or anything you sent to the person. Then, file a report at your local police department.
Yes. Sometimes scammers contact victims through video calls and lure them into blackmail.
A scammer can hack your phone by sending you malicious links on WhatsApp. And if you have clicked on any such links, your device will be infected with a virus.
Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular social networks worldwide, it is inevitable to encounter scams (including Tinder scams) on the platform. However, with the correct information, you can avoid being scammed by cybercriminals.