Tips and recommendations to avoid being a victim of a scam on the messaging platform.
Although WhatsApp scams have always been a latent threat, in recent months they have begun to multiply phone calls to fool the unsuspecting with increasingly sophisticated campaigns. In this note, how to protect your chats and avoid account theft, step by step.
In one of the most frequent, the attackers pose as personnel from the Ministry of Health -the call has the logo of the Cuidar app- with the pretext of coordinating a new dose of the covid vaccine.
With a persuasive tone they explain that they are going to send a link with a number and once received – everything happens in real time – they have to dictate it. When the person reads it to them, the WhatsApp account is hijacked.
Immediately, the criminals begin to write to the most frequent WhatsApp contacts, on behalf of the owner, to request the sending of virtual money.
The excuses in the message are as varied as they are ingenious. From when his car’s tire got a flat tire and he left without a wallet, until he suffered a robbery and needed a loan to return to his home.
“Scammers, with fake job offers or requesting emergency help, seek to extract personal data, such as the registration code -sent by SMS or phone call- to remotely access another user’s account. Given this scenario, the best thing to do is adopt measures to strengthen security,” says Paloma Szerman, public policy manager for WhatsApp in Latin America.
How to shield a WhatsApp account
From the application itself, they point out that it is essential to activate two-step verification to establish an additional personal PINa six-digit number, which is requested if someone tries to sign in to the account from another device.
“By not having these numbers, the intruder will not be able to take control of your account. Remember that WhatsApp will not call you or send a message to request this PIN or verify it ”, warns Szerman.
However, the application itself will randomly ask for this code, so it should always be kept in mind. To configure this layer of protection, just go to the menu Settings>Account>Two-Step Verification.
Every time a WhatsApp account is activated on a new device, the system sends a code via SMS or phone call to verify and activate the number.
This number should never be shared as it allows an unknown person to take control of the application.
Step by step, how to recover a stolen WhatsApp account
“WhatsApp accounts cannot be cloned. That is, there are no two people connected with the same number at the same time. If you think someone stole your account, there are tools available for you to recover it and make sure no one else is in control,” Szerman details.
- The first thing will be to try to enter again. Sometimes, if the invader has not yet set the PIN, this mechanism expels the intruder of the account and allows you to regain control.
- Then you will have to contact the WhatsApp support team: [email protected]. The email must include the subject “Stolen account” and contain the number in international format (+54 9 11).
- It is important to pay special attention to email addresses, Support only uses those that end in @support.whatsapp.com or @in.whatsapp.com.
- If a WhatsApp message arrives without the green check mark or that comes from a phone number that does not begin with the indicated address and that claims to be WhatsApp, it is likely that it is a scam. In those cases do not answer and report or block the number.
“I described what happened in as much detail as possible in the body of the email and the WhatsApp support team will contact you with a response as soon as possible,” Szerman specifies.
Once recovered, reinstall the software, request account verification via SMS, and log in with the phone number. Confirm the six-digit code that you will receive by text message. This way, anyone else using that account will be automatically logged out.
“If when requesting the registration code the system asks for a two-step verification code and you don’t know it, it is possible that the person who had access to your account has activated this second layer of protection. In that case, you will have to wait seven days to be able to access your account again without the two-step verification code,” Szerman clarifies.
One of the reasons for the delay is usually the lack of information in the report. On many occasions, the orders do not have the necessary data to identify an account, such as the country code or specifically the type of loss of the account.
In cases of identity theft, it is necessary to have evidence, screenshots that detail in writing what happened, to expedite the process.
“To reduce the possible damage, it is crucial that when you detect that you have been deceived or fallen for a scam, you act instantly so that we can provide the necessary support,” suggests Szerman.
It is important to ensure that only the owner of the line has access to the voicemail. The mailbox is predetermined by the cell phone company and usually no one bothers to configure it.
This oversight is taken advantage of by cybercriminals who often infiltrate to steal verification codes there and thus appropriate WhatsApp accounts to use them for scams.
The best thing in these cases is to contact the telephone company to set up voice mail and have a password that only one knows.