What to Do When You Receive a Message from a Stranger on WhatsApp

What to Do When You Receive a Message from a Stranger on WhatsApp

Here's how to protect yourself from scams and other threats on WhatsApp.

Receiving a message from an unknown number on WhatsApp can be quite a surprise. It's natural to feel unsure about how to respond. But don't worry too much, there are practical steps you can take to handle such situations safely and confidently and avoid scams, spams and other malicious or simply unwanted content.

Here are the main WhatsApp scams to watch out for:

  • Fake emergency requests: You might receive a message from an unknown contact claiming to be in urgent need of money. They could pose as a family member or friend, citing emergencies like a broken phone or stranded situation, and request you to transfer funds. This scam preys on your willingness to help, so be cautious.
  • Malicious links: Scammers may impersonate someone you know and send you a link, claiming it's important. These links lead to fake websites where you're asked to input sensitive information like bank credentials. Avoid clicking on suspicious links to protect your data.
  • Verification code requests: In this scam, you receive an SMS with a verification code for WhatsApp registration, followed by a message from a stranger on WhatsApp asking for the code, claiming it was sent to them by mistake. Providing the code grants them access to your WhatsApp account, leaving you locked out.
  • Impersonation of entities: Scammers may pose as legitimate entities, sending false links to trick you into logging into fake online services or banks. Once you enter your real credentials, they steal your information through phishing.
  • Fake bank alerts: Another tactic is pretending to be your bank, claiming there's a security issue, and requesting access codes, including one-time OTP codes. Providing these codes gives scammers access to your bank account, enabling them to transfer your funds
  • Fraudulent payments and fines: Scams involving fake notifications of package deliveries requiring customs fees, fines, or other payments are increasingly common on WhatsApp. Be cautious of unexpected payment requests and verify their legitimacy before proceeding.
  • Fake job offers: Scammers may contact you on WhatsApp posing as recruiters, even if you haven't applied for any job. Their goal is to obtain your personal data under the guise of considering you for a non-existent job offer. Be wary of unsolicited job opportunities and verify the legitimacy of recruiters before sharing any information.

What to Do If You've Received a Suspicious Message on WhatsApp?

1. Take a moment to read the message carefully. Does it seem suspicious or inappropriate? Trust your instincts and proceed cautiously.

2. Avoid responding right away, especially if the message seems suspicious. Take some time to think about how you want to proceed.

3. If the sender's profile is visible, take a look at it. Do they have a profile picture or any information about themselves? 

4. If you're uncomfortable with the message or the sender, you have the option to block them. This will prevent them from contacting you again.

5. If you believe the message is spam or a scam, you can report it to WhatsApp. This helps the platform identify and prevent similar issues in the future.

6. Avoid sharing any personal information with unknown contacts. This includes sensitive details like your address, financial information, or passwords.

8. If you're unsure how to handle the situation, don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or online communities for advice and support.

9. Review your privacy settings on WhatsApp to ensure you're comfortable with who can contact you and see your information.

10. Stay updated on common WhatsApp scams and safety tips. Knowledge is your best defense against potential threats.