Facebook and WhatsApp join UK anti-scam scheme amid alarming rise in phoney messages – how to stay safe | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

FACEBOOK, Instagram and WhatsApp have joined a UK initiative to halt fraudsters scamming users out of their cash.

Meta, the apps’ parent company, confirmed Tuesday that it had signed up to Stop Scams UK, an industry-led group of businesses working together in an effort to put the brakes on cybercrime.


Facebook and WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta, has joined Stop Scams UKCredit: Getty

The tech firm joins the likes of BT, Google, Microsoft and a number of the banking giants, including Barclays and HSBC, as a member of the organisation.

Stop Scams UK said the addition of Meta was a “watershed moment” in its work to “stop scams at source”.

The group noted that most fraud involves criminals posing as members of the banking, tech and telecoms sectors in order to scam their victims.

Stop Scams UK uses collaboration between its members to try to find solutions to scams and fraud spreading on their platforms or by impersonating their business.

It said scams were currently growing at an alarming rate.

Incidents in which victims were manipulated into making payments to criminals were reportedly up 60 per cent in the first six months of 2021 compared with the previous year.

Ruth Evans, chair of Stop Scams UK, said: “This is a watershed moment for us and will bring new reach and capability in our work to stop scams at source.

“The growth in our tech sector membership has been a gamechanger, enhancing our ability to help our members stop scams at source and limiting the harm to consumers.

“The collective firepower and capability of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook will have a transformative impact on the ability of Stop Scams UK to help keep people safe.

“I hope that other firms in the tech sector will follow Meta’s example and join Microsoft and Google in coming together to collaborate with our members, including the UK’s leading banks and telecoms firms, to help businesses work together to keep consumers safe from scams.”

Members of Stop Scams UK share data and insights with one another in a bid to protect customers and users.

Online scam attacks are typically carried out through unsolicited emails, text messages and phone calls.

They’re also executed through fake adverts on websites and on social media.

Typically, scams come in the form of so-called phishing attacks that lure victims to a website that appears to be operated by a trusted entity, such as a bank, social media platform or other service.

The website, however, is phoney with fake content designed to persuade a victim to enter sensitive information, such as their online banking credentials.

Over the phone, phishing attackers will pose as an employee of a trusted entity and pressure targets into revealing their details.

Steve Hatch, Meta’s vice president for Northern Europe, said: “Scammers use multiple methods on and offline to exploit people including fake phone calls and text messages, phishing emails and scam ads.

“We don’t want fraudulent activity on our platforms and we’re dedicating significant resources to tackling this industry-wide issue.”

How to stay safe from scammers

In January, a British scam-buster highlighted the most common signs that you’re caught in the crosshairs of an online fraudster.

Speaking to The Sun, James Walker revealed three giveaways that the WhatsApp message, email or online advert you’re examining is phoney.

Interacting with them could grant crooks access to your bank account, said Walker, who is CEO of fraud-fighting group Rightly.

“Be on the lookout for text messages that suddenly require you to pay for something,” he said.

“This is especially true if you’re asked to pay something you don’t recognise, such as a parcel you weren’t expecting or Covid vaccine you didn’t book.”

Fraudsters typically like to instil a sense of urgency in their messages to get people to pay up before they realise they’re being scammed – another telltale sign to look out for, James said.

His second tip concerns emails.

“If you get a suspicious email containing a link, before you click on it, hover over a link to see where it’s going to,” he said.

If the sender claims to be from your bank, for instance, but the link isn’t to your bank’s website, then you know to be wary.

It’s also worth looking for spelling mistakes in the email address to ascertain whether the sender is legitimate, James added.

“Scams are getting more sophisticated all the time,” James told The Sun.

“In terms of reports to police, they are equivalent to all other crimes in the UK, but prosecutions remain in the single digits as it’s hard to convict fraudsters.”

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