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WhatsApp users urged to be wary over 'friend in need' scam

"If you receive a suspicious message... calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling," said WhatsApp.

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A new awareness campaign launched by WhatsApp and National Trading Standards says that 59% of people have either received a scam text in the last year or know someone who has.

The Stop. Think. Call. campaign aims to inform potential victims about the scams and educate them on how to protect themselves and their WhatsApp accounts.

Scammers can hijack WhatsApp accounts, often by using accounts they have already hijacked, to message friends and contacts asking for help.

Often these "friends in need" claim that they are sending their WhatsApp security code to the victim and ask for it to be sent back to them - however this security code belongs to the victim and enables the criminals to hijack their account.

Other scammers ask directly for money or personal information to be shared over the app.


STOP: Take time before you respond. Make sure your WhatsApp two-step verification is switched on to protect your account, that you are happy with your privacy settings.

THINK: Does this request make sense? Are they asking for money? Remember that scammers prey on people's kindness, trust and willingness to help.

CALL: Verify that it really is your friend or family member by calling them directly, or asking them to share a voice note. Only when you are 100% sure the request is from someone you know and trust, should you consider it. If it turns out to be untrue, report it to Action Fraud.