Stay Safe on WhatsApp: Essential Security Tips from the OCU

In an era where instant messaging apps like WhatsApp have become a mainstay in communication, the importance of safeguarding one’s privacy from unknown or malicious contacts is paramount. The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) emphasizes the need for WhatsApp users to be vigilant against cyber threats. Below, we dive into their recommended approach for bolstering your WhatsApp security.

Understanding WhatsApp Scams and Their Risks

The ease and accessibility of WhatsApp also make it a prime target for cybercriminals. The OCU has noted an uptick in reports of various WhatsApp scams. These range from fraudulent pleas for financial assistance to fake job offers and requests for verification codes, often originating from international numbers. Such scams can put your personal data at significant risk.

Taking Action: How to Protect Yourself

If you encounter potential scams on WhatsApp, the app provides a feature to block and report these suspicious messages. This function is crucial for avoiding scams that often start with innocuous-sounding messages from unknown numbers.

To activate this protective measure, open the chat with the suspicious contact and select the ‘Block’ option. A notification will then present two choices:

  1. Block: This will prevent the contact from calling you, sending messages, or viewing your online status and profile photo.
  2. Block and Report: In addition to blocking the contact, this option sends the last five messages of the conversation to WhatsApp for review. It helps the app identify potential data threats and, if necessary, suspend the offending account for violating terms of use.

The OCU advises opting for ‘Block and Report’ in situations where you suspect extortion or encounter a dangerous interaction. If you change your mind, this action can be reversed by going into WhatsApp’s settings under Privacy and Blocked contacts.

By following these steps, you can significantly enhance your privacy and security on WhatsApp, thereby mitigating risks associated with unsolicited and potentially harmful communications.