Home Brief WhatsApp Identity Theft: The most concerning cybercrime you must protect yourself from

WhatsApp Identity Theft: The most concerning cybercrime you must protect yourself from

WhatsApp identity theft is increasingly becoming one of the favorite acts of cybercriminals. Over 2 billion Whatsapp users are at risk of losing their Whatsapp accounts to cybercriminals who would make use of your identity for all illegal activities.

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Whatsapp identify theft
A picture taken on November 10, 2021 in Moscow shows the US instant messaging software Whatsapp's logo on a smartphone screen. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)

How many of you have heard about Whatsapp identity theft before? trust me, not many!

With the ever-increasing use of social media and mobile apps worldwide come great opportunities for hackers to steal others’ identities and information. Scammers have started hunting through WhatsApp recently, and many have fallen prey to their well-planned tactics.

Typically, criminals will pretend to be someone else, convince you to follow their steps, and get your phone number or security code. That way, you can lose control over your WhatsApp account, and they can use it to collect all your data, steal your money, or trick your friends into thinking it’s you and ask them for favors.

There are many confirmed cases of cybercrime. These incidents can happen anytime, and they will seem genuine enough so anyone could fall for them. You need to be aware of various scams to avoid and stop potential scammers in their tracks. We will tell you everything you need to know about WhatsApp identity theft.

Ways to spot a WhatsApp scammer

When hackers plan to invade your Whatsapp account, they will do anything to get what they want. They can pretend they’re updating their contact list, so they send you a message asking who the person is. Then, they will tell you that they found you in their contacts, so they can verify it’s you.

You would typically open the message because you might think it’s someone familiar. And when you start interacting, the scammers will send you photos of themselves, although they’re stolen from another person. 

Those scammers will create a fake WhatsApp account with your name, profile picture, photos, and other information. That includes your home address, date of birth, contact info, and workplace. The hacker will also have your list of friends, and they might not know it’s a scam. That can be a frustrating experience.

There is another case of fraud. WhatsApp can send you an out-of-the-blue SMS that includes a verification code. At that point, you are either logged out or trying to connect from a different device. That can mean that the hacker is already controlling your account and phone number. 

Once you log in, you’ll get a message from the scammer asking you to share that code. They will lie to you that they sent it by mistake. When you share the code, they will start using your WhatsApp, steal your data, and rob you of using it.

Victims of WhatsApp scams have explained to have little knowledge of their accounts being compromised. Most of the targets suffered from SIM swapping, a technique used to impersonate you as they contact mobile carriers. Typically, criminals claim that they need to activate a new card for your account. If everything goes according to plan, hackers will be able to send and receive messages as if they were you. 

How to avoid WhatsApp scams

To avoid these situations, you must think twice. If they’re coming at you with an unknown number, you should ignore them and delete the conversation. If you get an SMS with a verification code, don’t share the code with anyone. You can always block or report the scammer.

When someone with an unknown phone number asks for money, make sure it’s someone you know. If you suspect it’s one of your friends, call the number and see who answers. No answer is a huge red flag. They don’t want to get exposed. If you’ve transferred money already, inform your bank about the payment immediately.

Another thing to keep in mind is their language. If a scammer disguises themselves as your relative or a friend, check if their grammar is a bit strange. Some spammers can appear like famous YouTubers, offering a giveaway gift, but their English grammar is poor. 

How to secure your WhatsApp account

It is important to protect your WhatsApp account so that you do not become a victim of WhatsApp identity theft. To secure yourself from scammers, you must set up two-step verification on WhatsApp. The process is quick and straightforward. However, you can only do this on smartphones, with web and desktop two-step verification coming sometime soon.

Open the app on your phone and tap the three dots in the upper-right corner. Go to Account settings, tap Two-step verification, and enable it. You will have to enter your custom PIN and re-enter it. The same goes for your email address. With this, you should be worry-free.

Additionally, you should protect the data you exchange online. A Virtual Private Network can help with this goal. It encrypts internet traffic, meaning no one, not even your ISP, can see what you do online. Furthermore, a VPN hides your IP address, stopping you from sharing your approximate location every time you go online. It is also an excellent option for unblocking WhatsApp if it renders unavailable due to network restrictions for geo-blocks. 

Conclusion

Dealing with scammers can be stressful, so you need to be cautious. Troubles can occur when you least expect them. Whenever you get a suspicious message, you must think before making the next move. As previously mentioned, there are multiple ways to protect yourself from WhatsApp scams. Remember these things in the future and stay safe!

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