WhatsApp: scams to look out for on the app, how to spot a fraudster and what to do - Lloyds issues guidance

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Lloyds Bank issues guidelines to help customers spot fraud on the app after research revealed victims had lost almost £2,000 each on average

Lloyds Bank has issued a stark warning to customers over fraudsters on WhatsApp conning users of thousands of pounds.

The bank has issued guidance to help people stop being scammed on the app as the number of cases soars by 2,000% in the last year, research by Lloyds Bank revealed.

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Victims have lost around £1,950 each on average, and the high street bank warns messages can seem "very personal".

Here’s the guidance issued by Lloyds Bank and how to spot a fraudster on WhatsApp.

How to spot a fraud on WhatsApp

Scammers will often use the pretense of being a family member who has lost their phone, referring to themselves as "mum" or "dad" instead.

They do not even need to know your name.

The scam can see fraudsters send messages that appear to come from a friend or family member asking for personal information, money or your pin number.

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A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank said: "The story they tell varies but most often they will claim that because it is a new phone, they don’t have access to their internet or mobile banking account.

“Therefore they need urgent help with paying a bill."

It is advised to be wary of these types of messages in particular.

What is the guidance from Lloyds Bank?

The banking giant issued a list of guidance for people to stay safe from scammers.

This includes being wary of messages from unknown numbers and not rushing into anything.

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Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, has issued advice to customers.

He said: "Never ever trust a message from an unknown number without first independently verifying the person’s identity, even if it claims to be from someone you know.

“Always insist on speaking to someone before sending any money.”

Is fraud on WhatsApp increasing?

The WhatsApp scam has emerged over the past year.

During the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, the total number increased twenty-fold, analysis shows.

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Ms Ziegler said: “Organised criminal gangs are always inventing new ways to dupe people out of their hard-earned cash.

"The emergence of the WhatsApp scam over the last year shows the depths to which these heartless crooks are prepared to sink.

She added: “This is a cruel scam which preys on someone’s love for their family and friends, and that natural instinct we all have to protect those closest to us.

“With fraud on the rise it’s vital that people are aware of the warning signs and how to stay safe.”

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What is the advice from WhatsApp?

WhatsApp has partnered with National Trading Standards to raise awareness of this type of fraud.

The “Stop. Think. Call.” campaign aims to educate people on how to protect themselves and their WhatsApp account from message-based scams.

The campaign urges people to:

  • Stop: Take time before you respond and make sure your WhatsApp two-step verification is switched on to protect your account.
  • Think: Does this request make sense? Are they asking for money?
  • Call: Verify that it really is your friend or family member by calling them directly, or asking them to share a voice note. Only when you are 100% sure the request is from someone you know and trust, should you consider it.

If the person turns out to be untrue, report it to Action Fraud. You can contact Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Kathryn Harnett, policy manager at WhatsApp, said: “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.

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“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.”

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