True or false? What you need to know about WhatsApp scams and hoaxes

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SOCIAL media is a fertile breeding ground for hoaxes and scams, some designed to get your money, and others for no obvious purpose at all.

Our sister publication, the North Coast Courier, has compiled this list of the top six scams which resurface time and again.

So what are some of the most common scams doing the rounds on social media platforms like WhatsApp?

1.WhatsApp will be charging its users

One of the oldest hoaxes  is that WhatsApp is about to start charging for their services and in order for the service to remain free-to-use, you have to forward the fake warning to everyone on your contacts list.

Though these messages may not pose a risk to your phone’s security, you may very well lose  friends if you keep forwarding hoax messages to them.

2. Donation Hoaxes

WhatsApp will not and does not make charitable donations for sharing photos or messages.

The messenger service has no way of tracking of many times a specific message has been forwarded or who it has been sent to.

Therefore, don’t fall for the request to share posts with instructions to share a photo or message to help raise money for someone in need.

While these messages generally do not have any malware attached to them, the stories are usually bogus.

So, verify the story first via Snopes or Hoax Slayer to avoid spreading fake news.

This is a prime example of fake news commonly spread via WhatsApp.

3. Invitation for new WhatsApp features

WhatsApp launched a new feature called video calling last year and the opportunity for new scams was immediately seized upon.

Messages saying you need to follow a link to activate this feature started doing the rounds.

When you follow the link you find yourself on a website with yet more links for the different devices (Android, Blackberry, iPhone).

The site tells you to click on the link to download the extension for this feature.

These links either take you to yet more pages or, even worse, start the download of malicious software to your phone. You may even be told to forward the message/links to your contacts.

In a nutshell, WhatsApp will never ask you to forward links and/or messages to your contacts and will introduce new features through standard updates – not links from which you must download.

A little bit of common sense goes a long way when it comes to detecting hoaxes.

4. WhatsApp Plus / WhatsApp Gold

You may get a message inviting you to download the “newest version of WhatsApp,” or a “premium” version.

WhatsApp Plus is not an official version of the messenger service. Basically, it is a programme developed by a third party that takes your number and uses the EXISTING WhatsApp to forward your messages on.

You are still using the same old WhatsApp in the end – but now a third party has your details/data and could even have access to your contacts.

Don’t fall for scams offering the latest “version” of WhatsApp. You will never be offered such an update through a message.

5. Emoji Blast

An emoji blast is a message that takes advantage of a glitch in the browser that causes WhatsApp to crash. WhatsApp Web allows users to enter up to 6600 characters in one message.

This message containing thousands of emojis is then sent to you, the user. After about 4200 characters, the browser will become much slower but will continue as the limit is not reached yet – soon afterwards the browser will crash as it cannot handle the amount of data flooding its processing ability.

Sending these kinds messages to others will cause their WhatsApp to crash repeatedly.

While this is merely a glitch, it remains best not to open these types of messages from unknown sources to prevent this recurring crash from happening.

6. Free vouchers or shopping discounts

This is a little more like the scams we’ve all been dealing with for years – you get offered something for free but in the end, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch.

You will receive a message saying that you have been given a free voucher or the like, to get the voucher you will have to follow a link.

The link either takes you to a site that will infect your device with malicious software or one where you will have to fill out surveys etc. Do not fill in surveys and do not pass on these messages.

WhatsApp is not going to send you messages offering you anything for free.

WhatsApp hoaxes can spread extremely quickly.

So don’t be a victim, remember that following links can be extremely dangerous. If you end up with some of the scarier versions of malware on your phone or computer, criminals may even have access to your personal messages, contacts, banking details and more.

  AUTHOR
Ridge Times

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