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Users of the popular app WhatsApp (a free messaging and phone app that allows users across the globe to text and call their loved ones) should be aware of a scam that has been making the rounds again.

Scammers have been sending out messages via text designed to trick users into sharing their bank details. Warning that “records indicate your trial service is exceeding the one-year period,” the scammers request the user to click a link to the customer portal where personal information is entered, including bank or credit card information.

The app is currently free to use and anyone who enters their information is at risk of having their finances compromised. Long-term users of the app may be more susceptible to falling for the scam as up until 2016 users were charged an annual fee.

Consumers worried about this scam should remember:

  • Don’t open links or messages from people you don’t know.
  • Block the sender so they can no longer message or call you through the app. You can also report the user as spam.
  • Most companies will notify their users of significant changes to their terms of use. Read the WhatsApp blog posts or FAQs if you question whether something is real or not.

This isn’t the first time the app has been targeted by scammers. Last year, many users mistakenly downloaded a false version of the app called WhatsApp Gold (or sometimes WhatsApp Plus), which infected their phones with malware. The fraud app was advertised as an ‘exclusive’ version of the app, with extra features like sending hundreds of pictures at once, new emoji’s, video calling and enhanced security features.

For more information on avoiding risks in the app marketplace, check out our blog post: http://blog.mass.gov/consumer/massconsumer/apps-access-denied/ .

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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