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How to avoid WhatsApp viruses, scams and hoaxes

By Marie Black | Nov. 8, 2017
WhatsApp scams are increasingly common, and range from telling you that you'll be charged for the service to offering scam shopping vouchers and dodgy links that download malware. Here are some of the WhatsApp scams you should delete and forget. How to avoid WhatsApp viruses, scams and hoaxes.

WhatsApp scams are usually pretty easy to spot for seasoned users, but every so often one comes along that will catch you out. Especially when they're offering something you want, or something you think you need.

Case in point: Trusted Reviews is reporting how millions of users are being scammed into downloading a fake WhatsApp Messenger client that delivers ads to their phones. If you can handle the odd advert it's not too alarming, and the app is easy enough to uninstall, but this particular scam plays on the fact less techie users don't know the correct way to update WhatsApp.

The app is called 'Update WhatsApp Messenger' and is still available to download from Google Play. Of course, that's not how you actually update WhatsApp: instead you should open the Play Store, tap the three horizontal lines in the top left corner, choose My apps & games, then click Update all.

WhatsApp scam offers free £250 shopping voucher

One of the most common WhatsApp scams is one that offers a link with the promise of a free £250 gift card for either Sainsbury's, M&S, Tesco and Asda. The M&S version is pictured here.

Even the most savvy WhatsApp users are falling for this scam, because who doesn't want £250 free shopping vouchers? And anyway, what's the worst that can happen, right? Well...

By clicking on the link you are taken to a survey page that asks you to answer various personal questions. This survey has absolutely nothing to do with the supermarket, and everything to do with stealing your data.

You might think you're doing your friends a favour by passing it on, but you're really not.

WhatsApp malware threatens to steal personal information

The most recent WhatsApp scam to come to our attention hopes to trick the user into opening a legitimate-looking Word, Excel or PDF document attached to a WhatsApp message that will actually download malware to their device that can steal their personal information.

All reports so far originate from India, and apparently use the names of the NDA (National Defence Academy) and NIA (National Investigation Agency) in an attempt to get users to open them, but it won't take much for the scam to make its way to the UK too. Only last month a similar message did the rounds in the UK that tried to persuade users to download a £100 Sainsbury's voucher. In reality, the link simply installed cookies or a browser extension on the user's phone that could be used to serve adverts to them.

The easiest way to avoid this scam is to delete the message, and never to download an unexpected document attachment - whether or not it comes from a trusted contact.


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