It’s Christmastime and people may be feeling a bit more generous than usual. However, scammers are also pulling at people’s heartstrings in order to loosen their purse strings. Watch out!
On my way home from work yesterday, my taxi driver took a call (hand-off) from her mother. The 84-year-old questioned why her daughter just sent a WhatsApp message saying her phone was broken and she needed help with some money, while the phone was clearly working.
The taxi driver replied that she didn’t send any message and that her mother should not reply to it but delete it instead.
The ‘Hi mum’ scam, in its various forms, that tricks parents into handing over money on WhatsApp has been around for many months; maybe even years; but people could still be falling for them because they prey on our kindness and desire to help friends and family.
The messages often start with the sender claiming they have lost their phone, it is damaged, or they can’t access it; so they are using a friend’s phone. They will then go on to ask you for money for a fake difficult financial situation they’re in, and by playing on the close relationship you have with the person they’re impersonating.
To avoid this scam, you may take the following steps:
- Don’t be tempted to transfer money immediately.
- Always stop and take some time to review the details and the situation.
- See if the message has any of the usual tell-tale signs. Such as:
- The number is Unknown number or ‘Private’.
- Instead of using a name, they write: “It’s me”.
- Saying their phone is lost or broken
- Try to contact the ‘person’ who contacting you through another means – to verify the story.
- Use two-factor authentication on your accounts and never share your six-digit pin code with others.
This is the season to be giving; just make sure you are not giving your hard-earned cash to scammers.
Merry Christmas.Niyi Adeoshun
Money Management Coach
Author of the:Financial Freedom Series
(Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, Live Debt Free)