WhatsApp is the most used instant messaging application in the world. That explains why WhatsApp scams are the most common; It is an interesting platform for cybercriminals because of the number of potential victims at their disposal. But what are the most frequent WhatsApp scams? There are some of them that, almost certainly, we will end up finding at some point. We review what they are and how we can avoid them.
The most common WhatsApp scams: how they are and what you can do to prevent them from affecting you
Unfortunately, ‘spy WhatsApp‘ is quite a claim. Each month, thousands of users search Google for information about this. So the cybercriminals have seized the opportunity and have created an application called WhatsApp Spy and that, in reality, is just one of the main scams of WhatsApp. It is an app parallel to the official one that, although it promises to allow spying WhatsApp of other users, do not comply with it and also is dedicated to trying to steal data and money to its users. Simply, with links to websites with malware or requesting the victim’s phone number.
WhatsApp Gold, WhatsApp Gold version
Although it started many years ago and does not have the same capacity as before to deceive users, the WhatsApp Gold scam is one of the most common. It promises us functions that the official application does not have, that is its claim for its potential victims. However, it does not increase the users’ ‘library’ of emoticons nor does it offer us the massive sending of images – among others- , but it is simply designed to get our phone number and, in this way, subscribe to a message service Premium SMS By doing this, the scam has already been completed and we will see it on the next bill from our phone.
If you do not forward to all your contacts …
The WhatsApp chains are not original of this instant messaging application. We already live in MSN Messenger, for example, when they assured us that the service would close our account if we did not send a message to a certain number of users. Usually, this type of WhatsApp scams does not look for damage with viruses or stealing information or money. They are simply a nuisance for users, a way to generate spam, and a hoax after all. Nobody is going to close our WhatsApp account if we do not stay active, although there is a chain in which we try to cheat with this message.
Coupons and fake discounts in Zara, Mercadona …
Discounts, promotions, offers, coupons with ‘X’ money … This type of scam uses large stores such as Zara and Mercadona as a claim. In these scams, they try to deceive us by promising us 250 euros to spend in Mercadona, for example, or in any other place, but they ask us in return to fill out a survey. After all, it is a phishing attack in which the identity of the large area is impersonated with the intention of stealing personal data or getting our phone number to subscribe to a premium SMS message service.
Free Internet without WiFi
The free Internet scam without WiFi takes advantage of that, as we know, many users ‘do not reach the end of the month’ with their mobile data franchise contracted with the operator. To deceive the user is sent a supposedly exclusive invitation, so you can access the Internet for free without connecting to Wi-Fi networks. All kinds of false testimonies and testimonies are shown around the scam and, in reality, all they do is subscribe the user to a premium SMS service, or modify their DNS configuration for an attack of personal data theft.
Free flights, or hotel nights
It is a scam similar to the ‘Mercadona coupons’ and their derivatives. The user is promised free flights, or hotel nights at no cost, in exchange for completing a survey. The mechanics are the same and, once again, the only purpose of this type of forms is to steal personal information from users. Although this is not always the case, in most cases your telephone number is used to subscribe the victim to a premium SMS message service with a significant extra cost on the usual bill for mobile telephone services.
Another similar: if you want to get a job in a simple way, you just have to fill in a form. On this occasion, the mechanics are repeated but the deception is different. Also part on the basis of a phishing attack, making believe that the victim is on the website of a major company, such as Mercadona. In this type of deceit, they promise us quick and easy access to a job opportunity and, in reality, they only want to steal our personal data.
Why are scams so common with WhatsApp?
The scams, deceptions, and scams of WhatsApp are becoming more frequent and habitual. And how not, they are evolving little by little and ‘disguising themselves’ in different ways. After all, all these forms of scams can be grouped into several types, although the details and the particularities of each one differentiate them from the rest. The reason why WhatsApp is such an important focus for scams over the Internet is something as simple as that it is the instant messaging application with the largest number of users worldwide.
This, the fact that it has such a large number of users makes WhatsApp scams more likely to succeed. In addition, scammers and cybercriminals choose social networks and instant messaging applications for the possibility of getting their scams to go viral. It is relatively simple to get the users themselves to spread the scams and, therefore, increase their reach in a ‘natural’ way.
What does WhatsApp do to avoid scams, or that these WhatsApp scams reach more potential victims?
From the company of Mark Zuckerberg are perfectly aware that their instant messaging service, WhatsApp, is used by some of its users to spread scams, deceptions, and scams of all kinds. And also malware and other forms of viruses, of course. And the instant messaging application, fortunately, has a protection system for users based on several points: we can block other contacts, and we can also denounce them so that the technical support team of the app has proof of the complaints and, if applicable, act against an account.
In fact, there are a number of guidelines that must be met in the use of the application if we do not want a WhatsApp ban. Beyond this, a system was recently introduced that notifies users when a message has been forwarded. It is reported, and the number of times a message can be forwarded to other contacts is limited. In this way, users can be prevented, and the potential reach of scams is significantly reduced trying to prevent them from becoming viral.
How to report a WhatsApp contact, if you only distribute scams
If you do not know the phone number, then the scam is probably not reached by you because of a human error but because that number is dedicated to distributing it in bulk. In that case, and in other similar cases, maybe the best thing you can do is use the security tools offered by the instant messaging application, such as reporting the contact. The way to do it is simple:
Within any conversation, click on the name of the contact to open the profile page of the user in question. Scroll to the bottom until you find the option ‘Report contact‘ and, again, click on the ‘Report‘ option. At this point, if you wish, you have the option to click on ‘Report and block‘. This way you will not only alert WhatsApp of the problem that this user supposes but also prevent you from being able to send you more messages through the instant messaging application.