There has been a dangerous WhatsApp scam going around in SA that involves user personal details and sim swapping. Criminals are illegally swapping users’ sim cards and then exploiting their contact lists by asking for money. Vodacom has called on ICASA for support but here’s what you can do to prevent the unfortunate incident happening to you.
Firstly Vodacom has urged all customers to reject all port requests that come via SMS. If you do get an SMS from a chatbot you should immediately reject this by responding to the SMS with a “1” within 50 minutes of receiving it. If no response has been sent from you, Vodacom will process the sim swap in accordance with ICASA regulations.
The best way to get around the South African WhatsApp SIM swap scam is to enable two-step authentication on your WhatsApp account. This is an optional feature that adds more security to the app when installing it on a new device. Instead of the usual SMS code which is sent to you when you install the app, your account will also be locked behind a six-digit PIN that will be required before the account can be activated on a new device.
This means if the SIM swap is processed and the WhatsApp scam has successfully be triggered, the criminal won’t be able to load your account on the device as it will need the pin code set up.
To enable two-step verification, open WhatsApp – Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.
WhatsApp also lets you enter an email address as an extra safeguard. This email address will then be used to disable the WhatsApp two-step verification in case you forget the PIN.
South Africans are all urged to enable this two-factor authentication as soon as possible to avoid any criminals taking advantage of the situation. The South African WhatsApp SIM swap scam can be prevented.