- How the WhatsApp Scam Works
- Report and Delete the WhatsApp Free Beer Text
- What to Do If You Fall for This Scam
- How to Avoid WhatsApp Scams
- Frequently Asked Questions
WhatsApp has become a common platform for scammers to find new targets. The latest scams to hit the messaging app offering a contest to win free beer this Father’s Day. There is no contest. The goal of the WhatsApp message is to trick you into clicking the link and entering the fake contest.
The scammers will use the personal information you entered on the form to steal your identity and target you in other scams.
How the WhatsApp Scam Works
The scam itself is pretty simple and, luckily, easy to avoid. The scam starts when you receive a text message from a random person on WhatsApp. It will likely be a group message sent to several other phone numbers you don’t know.
Did a Friend Send You the Link?
In some cases, you may receive the link to enter the competition from someone you know—they likely are unaware that the contest is fake and actually an attempt to steal your information. These scammers encourage contestants to send the link on to friends and family.
The message itself will read something like:
Scam Message Sent on WhatsApp
Welcome to the Heineken Beer Father’s Day Contest!
Take the quiz, find the hidden prize and win a cooler full of Heineken Beer.
250 gifts left.
The WhatsApp message will contain a link where you can take the “quiz” and enter the competition.
Don’t Click the Link
Opening the WhatsApp message itself is relatively harmless. The only negative is that the sender (aka the scammer) may note that your number is active and continue to send you more scams in the future.
The key to beating this scam is to AVOID CLICKING THE LINK. The link will take you to a phishing website with the primary goal of stealing your sensitive information.
The phishing website may look pretty legit. It uses the real Heineken logo and looks designed pretty well. However, it’s all a front to make you believe it’s a genuine Heineken contest when it’s not.
You’re led to believe that by answering a quick 1-minute survey, you’ll be in the running to win one of 5,000 free beer kegs or coolers of beer.
Once you enter the fake contest, that’s the scam completed. The scammer now has your sensitive information that they can use to steal your identity and money, access your online accounts, and more.
The survey itself could ask for information such as your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Credit card information
- Social Security number (or the last four digits)
Answering the survey questions may also result in malware installed on your device, which can then capture passwords and other sensitive information.
Report and Delete the WhatsApp Free Beer Text
If you receive a message on WhatsApp about a free Heineken beer contest, you can report it by forwarding it to 7726. The only thing you should do beyond reporting it is delete it. Do not click on the link. If you do, do not fill in the survey.
Remember, the contest isn’t real.
If you received the text from someone you know, you should immediately tell them that it’s a scam. If they entered the contest, they need to act quickly and take steps to protect their identity and accounts (see below).
What to Do If You Fall for This Scam
If you have fallen for this scam, you’re not alone. The important thing to do now is to act quickly to minimize the damage that can be caused. First, you need to consider the information you entered into the survey.
- Email: If you entered your email, stay alert for more scams entering your inbox. Make sure you use a spam filter and don’t click on any suspicious emails or links within them.
- Credit card information: If you entered your credit card information, you need to alert your bank immediately. They can cancel your card and issue you a new one so the scammer can’t make unauthorized charges to it. They can also refund you for fraudulent transactions the scammer has already made.
- Social Security number (SSN): If you gave away your Social Security number, you should freeze your credit or, at the very least, place a fraud alert. With your SSN, the scammer can do any number of things, including:
- Apply for credit cards and loans in your name
- Apply for unemployment benefits in your name (but have payments sent to them)
Regardless of the information you gave them, you need to remain on alert and monitor all of your accounts regularly for suspicious activity. This includes your emails, bank accounts, other online accounts, credit reports, etc.
You should also take the necessary steps to scan your device and remove any malware/viruses that have been installed.
Has Your Identity Been Stolen?
Identity theft can take years to recover from, but it can be done. The most important thing is that you act quickly and continue to monitor all of your accounts until the threat is over.
How to Avoid WhatsApp Scams
You should only use WhatsApp to communicate with people you know. If you receive a text message from a stranger, you should ignore it and delete it. You can also report and block the sender if it's an obvious scam.
If a text from someone you don’t know contains a link, don’t click it.
Unfortunately, blocking all spam and scam texts from reaching your WhatsApp inbox is difficult. No third-party apps can help you stop these malicious messages on WhatsApp. So, while you can manually block the numbers as they come in, you won’t be able to stop them completely.