The latest WhatsApp warning was issued by police, who said they have seen a “surge” in accounts being hacked. The scam can lead to WhatsApp users being easily blocked from accessing their account, with cyber crooks posing as a contact’s friend and asking for a crucial six digit security code to be sent to them. This scam has been around for awhile, with Express.co.uk reporting on the risks of the WhatsApp con previously.
To get the ball rolling on the scam, all cyber crooks need is the phone number of the WhatsApp user they’re targeting.
With this crucial account identifier, scammers can then contact WhatsApp directly pretending the number is theirs and saying the account has been compromised.
WhatsApp will then send a six digit code to the number, with scammers then having to trick the person who received the message to send the security code to them.
If a potential victim falls for this trap it can lead to their WhatsApp account being taken over by cyber crooks, who can then try to scam the account’s contacts out of further information or money.
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The scam warning was issued by a number of police forces in the UK, including Southwark Police who tweeted: “We have seen a surge in WhatsApp accounts being hacked, if you are sent a text from WhatsApp with a code on it, don’t share the code with ANYONE no matter who’s asking, or the reason why.”
WhatsApp has official guidance on its website to help users avoid prey to such scams.
The Facebook-owned chat app says users should never share verification codes with anyone – even friends or family.
The market-leading chat app said: “You should never share your WhatsApp SMS verification code with others, not even friends or family. If you’re tricked into sharing your code and lose access to your WhatsApp account, read the instructions below to recover your account.
“If you suspect someone else is using your WhatsApp account, you should notify family and friends as this individual could impersonate you in chats and groups. Please note, WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted and messages are stored on your device, so someone accessing your account on another device can’t read your past conversations.”
WhatsApp also offers the following advice to help keep users safe from scams. They said…
• Never share the six-digit registration code you received via SMS with others
• Enable two-step verification: Tap Settings > Account > Two-step verification. Create a PIN. That’s it!
• Protect your data: Allow only your contacts to see your profile photo. Tap Settings > Account > Privacy > Profile photo and select ‘My contacts’. Be wary of people asking you for money. Always call your contact to confirm their identity before making any money transfer
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