Facebook and WhatsApp logos are displayed on portable electronic devices. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: WhatsApp users in the UAE have been targeted by numerous scams, with messages offering free air tickets, shopping vouchers and other attractive raffle prizes tricking people to open fraudulent links.

Fake links are not supposed to be clicked through and shared, as they can get a user’s phone infected with Malware that allows fraudsters to steal sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, or gain access to WhatsApp accounts.

However, as scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot dodgy links on WhatsApp, but the good news is that the Facebook-owned messaging app seems to have already taken steps to stop the proliferation of such scams, including fake news and other unsolicited messages.

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According to Wabetainfo, which tracks WhatsApp features being developed, the messaging service is working on a new feature called Suspicious Link Detection, which is designed to help users detect suspicious links being shared within the platform.

The feature is still being developed and not available to users yet, but once it is rolled out, it should be able to screen messages that contain a link and detect whether it will redirect to a fake or alternative website.

Once the messaging tool identifies a link as harmful, the message is then marked with a red label, to alert the user.

The new feature is for the Android version 2.18.204 and could be released in the next few updates.

And while this update is not available yet, it pays to be vigilant against scammers to avoid getting caught out.

In the unfortunate event that you do fall victim to scammers and your WhatsApp account gets compromised, here’s what you can do:

1.Try removing and reinstalling the instant messaging app in different times of the day. 

2.Alert your contacts and inform them that your account has been compromised. Remind them not to respond to any messages coming from your number on WhatsApp.

3.Send the following text to WhatsApp tech support (Support@whatsapp.com): “Lost/Stolen: Please deactivate my account” and provide your phone number in the following format : +9715xxxxxx.

Here’s how to reinstall WhatsApp:

1. Touch and hold the WhatsApp icon on the home screen until the icons start to wiggle.
2. Tap the x in the corner of the WhatsApp icon.
3. Tap “delete” to remove the application and all of its data.
4. Press the home button.
5. Re-download WhatsApp from the app store.