WhatsApp users are being urged to report and then delete messages from unknown accounts posing as support services for the messaging platform.
The messages are sent by accounts featuring a profile photo that contains a verified badge, according to the website WABetaInfo.
Users are advised to block and report the contact within the app’s chat function.
The messages reportedly seek to obtain private information such as credit card details, with a warning that failure to provide them could result in the WhatsApp account being terminated.
In some cases, users are asked for a 6-digit code that would provide access to their WhatsApp account, WABetaInfo said.
Genuine WhatsApp support services do not request credit card details or the 6-digit code or two-step verification PIN.
“If someone wants to get this information, it means it is a fake account that’s trying to scam you,” WABetaInfo said.
“In this case, just block and report the fake contact right within their chat info: last 5 messages from this chat will be shared with the official WhatsApp moderation team so they can understand the context of the conversation and they can suspend the account.
“Note that this is not limited to WhatsApp: fake accounts may impersonate anyone, even your friends and family, so be aware when unknown contacts pretend to be someone you may know.”
Earlier this year, users were warned about a scam on Whatsapp where fraudsters convinced people to send them money by posing as friends and family in financial difficulty.
The so-called ‘Dear Mum’ scam involves fraudsters posing as people’s children by pretending they have lost or damaged their phone and are having to contact their parents from a different number.
The scammers then ask their parents to lend them money for a new phone or to cover their bills.
According to Barclays, reports of the scam had quadrupled over the last three months of 2021, compared with the previous quarter.
Most recent data from UK Finance shows that losses to scams where victims were coerced into sending their money reached a record £355.3m in the first six months of 2021. That represents an increase of 71 per cent on 2020.
Around £150.7m has been returned to victims.
Kathryn Harnett, policy manager at WhatsApp, said: “WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people that we all have a role to play in keeping our accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security.
“And if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), 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.”