A HACKER has claimed to be selling the WhatsApp numbers of nearly 500million people.
The threat was discovered on a notorious hacking forum, known as BreachForums.
The fraudster said the 487million active WhatsApp user mobile numbers span 84 countries.
The threat was first made in mid-November.
Over 32million US and around 11million UK users could be impacted, should the hackers’ threat be real.
The threat actor, posting under the pseudonym ‘Agency123456’, has claimed that the data set was acquired in 2022.
They gave no information as to how they managed to get hold of the data.
But the hacker told a digital security outlet Cybernews that they are selling the US dataset for $7000 (£5710) and the UK dataset for $2500 (£2040).
WhatsApp users have been urged to be aware of calls or messages from unknown numbers.
Cybernews confirmed that a sample of nearly 2000 numbers given to them by the hacker were all active users.
But WhatsApp has denied the claim, saying they have not found a leak of this size in this timeframe.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told The Sun: “This is not a data leak from WhatsApp.
“We’re disappointed to see Check Point buying a list of phone numbers circulating on the internet to repeat baseless claims to get some free publicity.”
The numbers are expected to be valuable to ‘phishers’.
Phishing scams are an increasingly popular tactic among bad actors, where people are sent fraudulent messages with the intent of having them reveal sensitive information.
These types of scams are often aimed at vulnerable, less tech-savvy phone users. They can happen on a smartphone or your landline.
Phishers are getting smarter with their scams, and frequently appeal to people’s good nature to get the information they want.
But genuine staff from companies or banks will never need you to reveal your personal information over the phone, via voice call or message.
How to block a suspicious number
If you receive a suspicious text or a call from an unknown number, you can easily stop them from being able to contact you again.
Blocking a number means you will stop receiving messages, calls, and status updates from them.
To block a number, open WhatsApp and click on the chat with the unknown number.
Tap the phone number at the top of the screen, where their display picture is located.
Then scroll to the bottom of that page and tap Block or Report and Block.
Alternatively, you can click Calls at the bottom of the screen, find the suspicious number and click the ‘i’ icon to the right.
Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and tap Block or Report and Block.
You can also choose to report an account by long pressing a single message.
When a number is blocked, your last seen, online, status updates, and any changes made to your profile photo will no longer be visible to them.
WhatsApp receives the last five messages sent to you by the reported user or group, and they won’t be notified.
The company also receives the reported group or user ID, information on when the message was sent and the type of message sent (image, video, text, etc.).
Blocking a contact won’t remove them from your contacts list, nor will it remove you from the list on the contact’s phone.
To delete a contact, you must delete the contact from your phone’s address book.
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