Five WhatsApp scams not to fall for

Not a day goes by without a new scam appearing on the world’s most popular chat app. The innocence of rookie users mixes with the ever more elaborate tricks of swindlers to take you sites you don’t really mean to go to. These are some of the scams floating around the Internet in the form of chain messages or fraudulent papers that can compromise your security.

Free WiFi

The first thing you’ll get is an invitation from a contact with a link to register for a service that supposedly offers free Internet. If you click you’ll find a website in your language that offers the option to invite your contacts plus an option to activate that service. But obviously that’s not what it actually does: depending on your particular scam, you’ll probably get redirected to sites that try to get you to sign up for Premium SMS services or download fake apps on the device.

Free plane tickets

Another scam doing the rounds lately that’s along the same lines as the last one. You get an invite to participate in a Vueling survey on your travel habits to be entered in a raffle for free flights for two people. Once you finish, besides pushing you to share the scam, you’ll get a message saying you’ve won the raffle to induce you to click and agree to accept SMS premium messages that, in case anyone doesn’t know, can leave you a nasty surprise on your cell bill.

Spy on your contacts

As explained on the ESET blog, a new swindle has come out with supposed new versions of WhatsApp with never-before-seen new features. In this case, they hook you with the so-called WhatsApp Live Plus that lets you spy on your contacts’ chats. As displayed in the attached screenshots, you might notice that the URL they send you and the name of one of your contacts in the example. In the end, it all boils down to getting you to give them your phone number and download apps of dubious provenance. And obviously spy on nobody and nothing.

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Change the color of the interface

Sometimes scams appear that exploit one country disproportionately only to then translate them to another language once they succeed. Recently more than 1 million Brazilian users were affected by this scam trying to change the color of WhatsApp. The URL in this case offers you the chance to use interchangeable skins. To do so you’ll have to download a supposedly ‘special’ version that obviously has nothing to do with what it says.

An important government message

One of the latest scams to arrive to WhatsApp: it all starts when you get an Excel file from a stranger whose content seems related to government security agencies. Initially the scam spread around India with the names ‘NDA-ranked-8th-toughest-College-in-the-world-to-get-into.xls’ and ‘NIA-selection-order-.xls’, but it varies by geographic region. Although the media have made the news sound like we’re talking about a virus that magically robs bank accounts and login details, in fact it’s a phishing scam to get you to download fake apps by making them look like ‘legal’ banking tools.

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