WhatsApp users should be cautious of any emails they receive that appear to be from the company, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The scam is designed to infect people’s devices with malware, which can lead to all kinds of trouble — technological, personal and financial. Once scammers get access to your device, they may be able to steal information stored in the device itself, as well as hack any accounts, passwords and personal information tied to that device.
According to the BBB, here’s how the scam works: Users receive an email from an account posing as WhatsApp with the subject line “Incoming Voice Message” and a time stamp of the message. Upon opening the message, the recipient is prompted to listen to a missed voicemail, but opening the email and pressing the play button triggers the malware download. Though the scam messages mimic the company branding, WhatsApp told the BBB that it would not email users unless it was in response to a customer request.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has become an increasingly popular messaging app, as it allows users to send messages over Wi-Fi and avoid paying for SMS. The platform currently has around 900 million active users, with an increase of about 200 million users just this year.
Email scams are nothing new, and you should always be cautious when clicking on any links sent to you in an email — even if the sender appears to be a trusted source.
Here’s Clark’s advice when it comes to protecting yourself when using email: Do not click on any link in any email you were not expecting. If there’s a question and you think there’s a legitimate message or notification intended for you, go directly to the official website of whatever business it is and check for any notifications there.
How to protect your information
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for mobile security, try a freemium service called Lookout.com, which offers protection for smartphones running Android, Blackberry, or Windows. And don’t forget antivirus on your computer at home too. Check out Clark’s list of free options for virus, spyware, and malware protection.
Also, check out Clark’s Identity Theft Guide for more ways to protect your information and what to do if you become a victim of a scam.