This WhatsApp scam could let hackers take over your account - what to look out for

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 3:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 3:24 pm

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world, with nearly two billion active users - but among this massive number of users lie hackers and scammers looking to wreak havoc on your account.

A new WhatsApp scam is currently making the rounds, and you could see your account get taken over by a stranger if you fall victim to it.

This is what you need to look out for.

The scam

The scam involves a hacker, having already gained access to the account of someone in your contacts list, messaging you. At first glance, it’ll appear normal, with messages looking like they’re coming from that person.

At some point while messaging this person, you might receive a text containing a six digit verification number, which WhatsApp sends you whenever you try to log in or make changes to an account.

This is happening because the hacker is trying to access your account.

The person pretending to be your friend will then say that they accidentally sent that six digit code to the wrong number, and ask you to tell them what it is.

If you do, the hacker will be able to access your account, and you will lose it. They will also then be able to repeat the cycle with the people in your contacts list.

There have also been reports of users getting messages from fake WhatsApp Technical Team.

One user tweeted a screenshot of the message they had received to the WhatsApp Beta Information Twitter account, which replied: “This is #FAKE. WhatsApp doesn’t message you on WhatsApp, and if they do (for global announcements, but it’s so rare), a green verified indicator is visible.

“WhatsApp never asks for your data or verification codes.”

How to avoid it

The easiest way to ensure you never fall victim to this scam is to never share the six digit security code that WhatsApp sends you, no matter what your “friend” or anyone else might say.

There is no way for someone to send the code to the wrong number, so if you get a message saying something along those lines, you should be aware that something is wrong.

WhatsApp says: “You should never share your WhatsApp verification code with others.

“If someone is trying to take over your account, they need the SMS verification code sent to your phone number to do so.

“Without this code, any user attempting to verify your number can’t complete the verification process and use your phone number on WhatsApp.”

Two step verification

One way to make your WhatsApp account extra secure is to enable the two step verification option in your settings.

To do this, head to Settings > Account > Two Step Verification > Enable.

Create a six digit PIN of your choice, and confirm it.

Provide an email address that you have access to, or tap skip if you don’t wish to add an email address. WhatsApp recommends adding an email address, as this “allows you to reset two step verification, and help safeguard your account”.

Tap next, confirm your email address and tap save.

If you don’t add an email address and you forget your PIN, you’ll need to wait seven days before you can reset the PIN.