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The new year brings with it a new series of challenges, one of which is dealing with scams aimed at separating you from your hard-earned money. For instance, there has been recent media attention focused on scamming attempts that rely on hijacking WhatsApp accounts – and then simply asking for money.
Scammers start by fraudulently porting the victim’s number to a different service provider, giving them access to their SMSs and WhatsApp account. They then send the victim's WhatsApp contacts messages asking for money.
How to protect yourself
To help you avoid becoming a victim of this scam, we've put together some tips. Most importantly, if you receive a message from a friend asking for money, make sure you are talking to the person you know and not a scammer. A simple phone call should do the trick. Otherwise, the below tips may come in handy.
Enable two-step authentication on WhatsApp
First and foremost remember to enable the two-step authentication on WhatsApp. Once set up, this will not allow you (or anyone else) to set up a new WhatsApp account using your number on a different phone without adding a 6 digit PIN of your choosing. Watch the video below to find out how to set this up.
Avoid your number being fraudulently ported
In the event of a port request, Vodacom will send you an SMS alerting you to a port out request on your number. If you did not request a port, immediately reject the port. You can do this by responding to the SMS with the number “1” within 50 minutes of receiving the SMS. As per current ICASA regulations, the port will be approved if there is no response.
It is also important to note that number porting is regulated by ICASA while the porting process is managed by Number Portability Company, a company that is run independently and not by mobile operators. ICASA published new regulations during the course of 2019 to provide greater protection for consumers regarding the porting process – the effective date of these new regulations is still pending. As matters stand, mobile operators like Vodacom are limited in terms of what they can do from a porting perspective until such time as the new ICASA regulations come into effect.