Users of WhatsApp have been urgently warned to be on the lookout for a new form of scam communication.
Users are now being cautioned that scammers posing as WhatsApp Support may attempt to dupe you into passing over personal information.
So how can you spot this latest fraud, and what should you do if you come across it on WhatsApp?
Here is everything you need to know.
How does the scam work?
Posing as WhatsApp Support, the scammers may ask for your six-digit verification code, which would grant them access to your account.
They could also request your credit card information, telling you that without it you may be locked out of your account.
The scammers’ profile photos may appear to be authentic and verified, as they contain one of WhatsApp’s green ‘verified’ ticks.
However, don’t be fooled by this placement of the tick.
When you’re communicating with a verified contact, the verified badge appears next to their name and chat information in the conversation screen.
The green tick will appear next to the name of the legitimate, Meta-owned WhatsApp Support for instance.
How to spot fake support accounts
Real verified badges only appear next to a verified contact’s name; if it is shown in a different location, such as on the profile photo, it indicates that the contact could be attempting to deceive you.
WhatsApp will never ask for credit card information or information such as your 6-digit code or two-step verification PIN, and won’t ask for money or personal details.
If someone is requesting this information, it is most likely a scam account attempting to defraud you.
What should I do?
If you are contacted by such an account, block and report it.
The last five messages from the chat will be shared with the official WhatsApp moderation team so they can grasp the context of the conversation and suspend the account.
What other scams are about?
The bank issued guidance to help people stop being scammed on the app, as research revealed the number of cases had soared by 2,000% in the last year.
Fraudsters may send messages that appear to be from a friend or family member, requesting personal information, money, or your PIN number.
They may even pose as a family member who has misplaced their phone, addressing themselves as "mum" or "dad".
During the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, the total number of scams circulating on WhatsApp increased twenty-fold, analysis showed.
As such, WhatsApp has partnered with National Trading Standards to raise awareness 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.