Experts issue urgent scam warning over WhatsApp verification code cons

Which? have shared a worrying WhatsApp scam
Which? have shared a worrying WhatsApp scam -Credit:PA

WhatsApp users are being warned of a 'nasty' scam doing the rounds which could see users have their account completely hijacked. Which? say that while the WhatsApp scam originally reared its head back in 2021, Action Fraud issued a warning over it once more in 2023 following an uplift in verification code cons.

The consumer champions warn that people will receive an unexpected but genuine text message from WhatsApp with a verification code - usually appearing when a person logs into the app for the first time or they are using a new device to access their instant messages.

But this scam sees fraudsters enter a number into WhatsApp themselves to try to access a person's account, which triggers the text to come through. One of your WhatsApp contacts will seemingly message through the app next, and try to persuade you to give them the code you just received - however, this is not the person you think it is, and a scammer is usually writing the lines unbeknown to the real account holder.

They may say that they entered your number by accident - and because the message appears to come from a contact, lots or people have been tricked into handing over the code. And once hackers have a hold of your account, they can use it in a number of ways to scam people.

Which? say: "We’ve heard that scammers have identified their victims’ closest contacts from their message history and have asked them for money or sensitive information. They could also find out personal details about you and your contacts from your messages."

Speaking on how scammers may target you with other scams or try to extort you, Which? add: "Scammers are likely to carry out the same trick with verification codes with the new set of contacts they’ve unlocked, gaining access to more and more accounts."

Thankfully, there are a number of ways that people can keep their accounts safe.

How to keep your WhatsApp account safe -

Which say that you should never share login details with anyone, no matter if they are a family member or your most trusted friend. You should also set up two-step verification to secure your account further, as it adds an extra layer of privacy.

Spam messages should be reported, and you should block senders on WhatsApp by pressing and holding the message bubble before selecting 'Report' and following the instructions. Finally, Which? say that you should be wary of messages asking you for money, even if they come from a contact.

If you're unsure, you should always give a pal a quick call to check.