WhatsApp users warned over scam as Action Fraud advise how to change app settings to keep account safe

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Action Fraud has issued a warning after receiving multiple reports of attempted WhatsApp account takeover scams

Action Fraud has issued a warning after receiving more than 60 reports relating to scams that attempt to take over user accounts on WhatsApp. The UK’s national fraud and cyber crime centre said the scam starts when a criminal gets access to another WhatsApp user that has you as a contact, where they then try to act as your friend to receive information.

Posing as a friend, colleague, or someone who is in a WhatsApp chat group you’re in, the scammers will send you seemingly normal messages. But as soon as they begin the conversation, you will receive a text message from the chat app with a six-digit number.

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You will get the text because the scammer acting as your friend has attempted to log on to your WhatsApp account using your phone number. But since they can’t access your account without the code, Action Fraud says, they will tell you that the code has been sent to you by accident and ask you to send it back to the criminal.

If the criminal does receive your six-digit code, then they have full access to your account and can lock you out of it. After having accessed your account, they will then proceed by doing the same thing to your contacts in an effort to steal more and more accounts, Action Fraud warns.

But the fraud reporting centre says there are ways to ensure your account is safe and out of risk of being stolen by online fraudsters. With a few steps and security measures, criminals will have a much harder time scamming you and the people you know.

How to ensure your WhatsApp account is safe from scammers

  1. Setting up a two-step verification will give your account an extra level of security from scammers. To set up, simply open your WhatsApp, tap Settings, then go on Account, and then press the Two-step Verification and Enable.
  2. If you receive a message from WhatsApp or from someone you know that seems suspicious or unusual, take an extra second to think. Give your friend a call to ensure it is truly them sending the message and not an online fraudster.
  3. Never share your six-digit activation code with anyone, no matter if you ordered it yourself or received it unexpectedly. The code will arrive via SMS, and not in the app itself.
  4. If you receive unwanted messages or spam, you can report spam messages and block the sender. Simply press and hold the message and select Report. From here, follow the instructions to report and block.

If you or anyone you know have been the victim of fraud or attempted fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040.

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