It's that time of the year again where Christmas shopping meets Black Friday in an explosive online shopping spree. There are some genuinely good deals to be had online, and the majority are extremely limited-time offers. As a result, you need to act fast if you want to benefit from some of the biggest discounts you'll see this side of Christmas. Unfortunately, this is something that hackers are all too familiar with. It's no surprise that we see an increase of scams around holiday periods like these, and this year is no exception.
Yet another WhatsApp scam has reared its ugly head on the popular chat messaging application, which grabs the reins of the Black Friday excitement to try and steal your personal information. We'll tell you more about the scam, which uses a popular supermarket's name, below.
Fake Black Friday competition
The message has been circulating on the WhatsApp application, encouraging recipients to complete a simple survey, with the promise of coupons to be won for the SPAR supermarket. However, the survey is a hoax and doesn't give you the chance of winning any vouchers. In fact, it's a simple way to capture your personal information and hand it directly to the scammers that created the message.
Once they obtain your personal data, it will then likely be used to attempt to clone your identity, so that financial accounts can be opened in your name without your knowledge. It's a simple trick that works in the same way as phishing emails, which have been around for decades.
The link leads to what appears to be a very realistic-looking copy of SPAR's actual website, so if you're not the type of person who's constantly on the lookout for suspicious messages and links, it wouldn't be hard to be duped. As with all WhatsApp message scams, this malicious message relies on the ignorance of strangers to spread among the community. When forwarded on to other friends and family, hackers have a greater chance of stealing personal data from those who choose to fill in the form.
Spar's take on the scam
Spar has responded to the scam with their own update on social media platform Twitter. In fact, it was Spar who first alerted the media, posting, "SCAM ALERT! Please note that SPAR has no association with this website. Please do not enter your details on this website and don't share the link. Keep in mind that we will always make mention of a competition either in-store or on our Facebook page."
This isn't the first time that this supermarket has been the subject of a fake survey scam. Previously, a fake survey was circulated in South Africa, which claimed to offer a free voucher worth around £250 for completion of a few personal details. Those who had filled the survey out found themselves subscribed to a daily service that deducted around £0.39 from their phone bills.
Staying safe on WhatsApp
WhatsApp is clearly a popular platform, with millions of users opting to use it over their usual text message app, as the service allows free voice, text and video chat. However, its popularity also makes it a target for scammers. We've previously highlighted plenty of malicious scams, including the Paulton's Park impersonation scam, and the Alton Towers scam. We also saw a vulnerability that could've allowed hackers to take control of your voicemails.
Our advice in the face of these malicious messages always remains the same. Sure, you'll open pictures and videos sent by your family and friends, as this is what the application is designed for. And you might follow a familiar shopping link or two, such as Amazon, Boots, Debenhams, or other recognisable retailers, especially around this time of year when everybody is sharing present ideas.
But, you should avoid clicking on any strange links that you don't recognise. If in doubt, don't follow the link, especially if a form on the other end is waiting for you to input your personal details. If you have any questions or concerns, or need any advice about staying safe and securing your information, then get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2820.