WhatsApp Scams: The Definitive Guide to Not Falling in Trap

Spam, malicious chains, messages that supposedly give access to gifts, discounts, promotions and coupons ... WhatsApp is full of false promises that are nothing more than digital scams that steal personal data from users of the messenger or induce the registration of the number of paid services, consuming all account credits. Faced with so many criminal onslaughts involving the application, he has turned on the WhatsApp security team to put an end - or at least try - to share malicious content that could hurt him in chat groups and private conversations.

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Where are my credits?

Common in groups, messages often ask the app user to share content with a certain number of people. They may contain shortened links that lead to fake websites. In these online environments, criminals request the filling out of forms in which - to get the discount, coupon or any other offer - the person is prompted to enter cell phone number, name, email and in some cases even personal passwords . Once filled in, the data is used against the victim, causing financial loss such as the subscription of services paid for SMS that were never requested.

In other cases, applications in .apk format, outside of Google Play, are indicated that may be of dubious origin and install malware in the operating system of your smartphone. When accessed by WhatsApp Web on your computer, the threats are suggestions for malicious downloads of executable .exe files (on Windows) or virus-safe browser plugins for PCs.

Camillo Di Jorge, president of ESET Brazil, says that this type of coup is recurrent. "The criminal will use people's curiosity, in the case an app that is feverish today, to attract new victims, " ​​he said. Already used by scammers the nostalgia of the "return of Orkut", Uber coupons and also the latest craze, the Sarahah app.

Latest hits that used WhatsApp to spread

  • False chain on WhatsApp promises to retrieve Orkut photos
  • Fake website promises to reveal who sent messages on Sarahah
  • Kopenhagen is used to lure victims on WhatsApp

'Cryptography limits'

Asked by, WhatsApp said it works diligently to reduce the number of spam messages in the application. However, teams may not have access to message content because of end-to-end encryption applied to the messenger and adopted in April 2016. "Our actions are somewhat limited, " WhatsApp security essay. Similar content to the note you submitted is found on the "Stay safe in WhatsApp" page. Learn how to act by receiving chains, malicious links and false promises of coupons that can be scams.

Our actions are somewhat limited

To understand the currents of WhatsApp

WhatsApp says that because messages are encrypted by the app - meaning that the app owners do not have the key that gives access to message content - they can not be tracked and blocked before they reach thousands of people middle of chains. That is to say, also, that the messenger does not make a previous analysis of the links that are sent by the platform and it is left only to the receiver to decide if a message and its links are safe.

WhatsApp details spam messages or questionable content that may or may not come from one of your contacts (people in your phonebook). These messages that spread information that is not true to deceive and make you behave in a certain way usually seem suspicious or content too good to be true. "Do not touch, share or forward it" if you notice some of these particularities.

WhatsApp, contact and report spam

How to evaluate if the message is secure?

Doubtful messages often have the following problems:

  • Spelling or grammatical errors;
  • They ask you to access a particular link to gain the advantage;
  • They ask you to forward phone number, credit card, bank account, anniversary date and passwords ...
  • They ask you to forward the message to more people;
  • They ask you to click on a specific link and activate a new feature.

Receiving streams of unknowns

According to WhatsApp, the first time you receive a message from an unknown number (or not yet entered in your calendar) you have the option to report this same number as spam directly in the application.

Receiving contacts from your phone

In this case, where you have received a spam message from one of your friends or family members, WhatsApp's guidance is: delete the message, do not click on any links, and provide no personal information. "Tell your contact that the content of the message he sent you is actually spammed and directed to the security page (faq.whatsapp.com), " he says.

Reporting spam in WhatsApp

While encouraging the user to send chain content to support, WhatsApp does not have a clear policy on what to do with complaints after they are submitted to the app. "Keep in mind that we generally do not have the content of the message available to us, precisely to ensure the security and confidentiality of your messages, " says the FAQ document.

"We reviewed all types of abuse sent to us and we take them very seriously, but we may not have access to the content of the message that was sent to us, which would be necessary for an appropriate investigation, " the statement said. on the official WhatsApp support page.

Update: After the publication of the text, WhatsApp reported that all requests are analyzed, including by people who speak Portuguese. Also according to the company that provides the messaging service, WhatsApp can also temporarily ban or permanently ban a user and this analysis is done on a case by case basis. If this occurs, the user will see the following message:

"Your phone number is prohibited from using WhatsApp. Please contact support for help."

Banned accounts may be promoting activities that violate the terms of service. If you think your account has been banned in error, please email us and we will review your case. 72 hours after your account has been banned, your friends will no longer be able to ban your account. see it, "says the WhatsApp messaging application.

Report problems in WhatsApp

You can contact and report spam messages through the application itself. On Android, open WhatsApp, click the Menu Button, click Settings, click About and Help, and then click Contact Us. There, you can write a message, copy the current and include prints to help identify the problem. On iPhone (iOS), the process is similar, open WhatsApp, go to Settings, click the About tab and Help, and follow the process in Contacting us. In Windows Phone, touch "more", Settings, About, and Support. When doing this procedure, the user mounts the message by the app, but sends it by the email itself. In the Web and Desktop version, just enter your contact email and send a message (text only) with the complaint to the support.

Some myths about WhatsApp

  • WhatsApp is free. You do not have to do anything to stay free;
  • WhatsApp does not have premium features that are paid for;
  • WhatsApp does not have features only for selected users;
  • To test new features just install WhatsApp Beta;

WhatsApp and antivirus scams

Although the antivirus on the phone warns against this type of threat (when the URL used is blocked on opening), it is not a malware, but rather a common blow to some extent. When the messenger user does not have an antivirus installed on their cell phone, clicking the malicious link will not prevent them from downloading or accessing content that poses a risk.

"People need to not believe everything they get via WhatsApp, " said Fabio Assolini, senior analyst at Kaspersky Lab, in a recent case involving Orkut in WhatsApp chains in Brazil. As pointed out by Dmitry Bestuzhev, head of research and analysis, also Kaspersky, the ingenuity of Brazilians is the weapon of criminals to make more and more victims in the app.

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