All parents using WhatsApp are being asked to keep an eye out for odd texts due to a spike in WhatsApp scams targeting middle aged people.
Though not a new scam, Action Fraud has warned that there’s been a steep rise in parents receiving distressing messages asking for money, from scammers claiming to be their children.
Reports from the cyber crime organisation show that there have been 25 instances of the scam reported between August and October this year, with victims losing nearly £50,000.
Here's what you need to know about the scam and what you can do protect yourself.
What is the 'hello mum' scam targeting parents on WhatsApp?
The crafty WhatsApp scam sees parents receive texts claiming to be from their children, coming from unknown numbers. The scammer's message starts with "hello mum", before saying: "I have a little problem I need to solve… can you help me with it?"
When parents offer to help their child, the bad actors will then say that they need to transfer all their apps to their new device, but that their banking app "put a 48-hour security on the app due to fraud".
The message will go on: "All nice but I have to pay 2 payments. Very annoying because I can’t do anything about it. Could you possibly pay for it for me and I’ll return it soon as possible? Sorry to bother u with this."
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Another similar scam will see fraudsters try to gain access to your WhatsApp account through a verification code scam. What happens is that you'll receive a text from WhatsApp with a log-in code.
This is the authentication code that lets you log into your account, since it proves that you're in possession of the phone number.
After you receive the code, someone claiming to be a friend or family member might send you a message. They might say something like: "Hey! I accidentally sent you my WhatsApp log-in code. Could you send it back to me please?"
If you reply and end up sending them the code, they will then be able to access your WhatsApp account. They can also use your account to impersonate you and scam your loved ones.
How to prevent yourself from being scammed on WhatsApp?
WhatsApp Policy Manager Kathryn Harnett advised that people should secure their account by enabling the two-step verification.
She added that we should never share the authentication code or six-digit PIN code with others – including family and friends.
She told Which?: "And if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are."
It's also best that you never reply to any unsolicited messages. If it claims to be from someone you know, it's worth flagging to them that they've been hacked, using a different form of communication from WhatsApp.
In case your account does end up being compromised, make sure you immediately try to log in and kick the other person out. If you manage to remove the hacker, they'll need a new code to get back.
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