WhatsApp has become a great way to stay connected with personal contacts as well as official contacts. Even though it is not yet accepted as a formal way to contact officially, WhatsApp really saves a lot of time (and money too) when connecting to overseas clients or colleagues or when looking for an immediate response.
WhatsApp is simple to use and you also get to know if the recipient has actually read your message or not which is quite helpful. But as with all sorts of technology, there are people who misuse WhatsApp to send scams, viruses and hoax messages. They tend to get so viral that many people unknowingly fall prey to these and compromise on their mobile safety! But with a little caution you can easily make out these hoax messages and scams and save your mobile from getting infected with virus.
Here are some ways you can avoid WhatsApp Scams, Viruses, and Hoaxes:
1. WhatsApp is free and will never want you to forward messages to umpteen numbers of people.
This viral message which is a total hoax claiming to be from the CEO of WhatsApp claims that if the users do not forward the message to x number of people, WhatsApp will start charging them or discontinue the services. You can check WhatsApp’s official website for clarification on this hoax message.
2. Never click the links on forwarded WhatsApp messages unless it is a private message from a known resource.
WhatsApp has become a convenient way to attack individual users and groups with fake links that can compromise your phone’s security. Even if a known resource has forwarded it, please Google up regarding the same, before opening it.
3. WhatsApp has millions of users and cannot shut down operations one fine morning! This is the ultimate truth. The rumor that WhatsApp was about to stop its free services went viral a few months back whereas, it was made totally free afterwards. These are hoax messages meant to create chaos among the regular users.
4. The best way to confirm the authenticity of such messages, particularly those pertaining to WhatsApp is to check the official website! This is the best way to stay away from viruses, hoax messages and spammers! Either Google the exact text or check out WhatsApp’s official website for correct information.
5. The messages asking you to forward to x number of people are definitely spam!
Spammers flourish even in WhatsApp! 99% of the messages that wants you to forward it are Spam! But since it’s just a few clicks’ job, most of the users do not mind that.
6. Messages containing downloadable content from unknown people may be infected This is the most dangerous ill-effect of overusing WhatsApp. If your WhatsApp message comes with downloadable content, do not open them unless your phone has a spam protection and anti-virus installed. Such content not only eats up your mobile data but also your device space.
7. Messages from unknown people containing links to external sites may be infected You may get forwarded messages with links claiming to give you free offers and internet upon clicking the links in the message. Such messages with links are more likely to be scams or infected. Though WhatsApp marketing is slowly catching up not many of the reputed organizations are using it to promote their business through WhatsApp.
8. WhatsApp Gold and WhatsApp Plus have nothing genuine to do with WhatsApp!
This is a major issue many WhatsApp users have faced. WhatsApp Gold and WhatsApp Plus are totally different messenger services misusing WhatsApp’s name. They are not related to WhatsApp in any way. So please refrain from installing and using these apps. If you have, by mistake installed it, please delete it right away.
9. Emails with missed WhatsApp calls or voice messages are definitely hoax. WhatsApp will never mail you for a missed message!
Why would WhatsApp email you for a missed call or message? It is a total hoax and clicking on the link will compromise your computer, unless you have a good antivirus installed in your system.
10. Never download apps via WhatsApp. Always download it from the native app resource or from the company site directly. This will save you from malware to a great extend. If you get messages with download links to apps, please never click them. They may steal some of your precious personal information stored on your mobile before installing an infected or compromised app. If you want an app, the best way is to approach the native app store such as the iTunes or Google Play store.
11. If you are unsure of the credibility of a message or link sent by a known contact, cross-check with them before taking any further action based on the message. If a known contact sends you a questionable message, immediately call them or message them and ask its credibility. They may have simply forwarded by habit and never really checked it themselves. Ask them for the source and if they cannot vouch for its credibility, advice them not to send such messages again. Propagating fake messages may land them in trouble.
12. Formal messages such as recruitments will never be sent via WhatsApp. So insist on a mail from the company or recruiter or cross-check on the company’s website or office before you take any step. You may have seen in LinkedIn also that many recruiters ask for your WhatsApp number to message on job opportunities. While after joining such recruitment forums, you may join their WhatsApp group, but simply joining a group without knowing their motive and ownership may land you in trouble. None of the reputed companies use WhatsApp for recruitments.
13. If you are repeatedly getting scams and viruses from an unknown user in WhatsApp, block the sender and report it as spam. Some users have no other job and keep sending disturbing messages to spam your WhatsApp inbox. Similarly viruses are also propagated easily through WhatsApp. If you repeatedly get such messages from a user, you can block the user and even report them to WhatsApp as spam!
14. The missing cases of children that come in WhatsApp with the photo and phone number are either many years’ old or scam! Call up the number and confirm it. We all regularly get messages with photos of missing children or persons. More than often these are fake messages or very old ones. If you get such a message, before forwarding, please check its authenticity by calling the number given along with the message. If found fake or obsolete, please inform the sender too.
15. Use good safety software in your Smartphone. That’s definitely a great way to protect your phone from hackers. The ultimate safety for your Smartphone is achieved by getting good anti-virus software installed on your phone. You can now get free antivirus for phones or club your PC’s antivirus to protect your phone too.
These tips can help you stay away from WhatsApp frauds. Most of these points remain valid for email and social media spams, scams and hoax messages too.
Guest Author: Anakha KG
Anakha is a content writer at Code9 Technologies, a web design company in Cochin, Kerala. She is well-experienced in Web design and also a passionate about music, reading and writing non-tech articles. She also works on some freelance marketplaces.