Facebook next to the WhatsApp logo on iPhone on February 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Marie Waldmann—Photothek via Getty Images

Users of the popular messaging platform WhatsApp should be wary of any emails they receive that appear to be from the company, the Better Business Bureau warns. There’s a scam targeting WhatsApp users designed to infect their devices with malware, which can lead to a variety of technological, personal and financial headaches.

Here’s how it happens, according to a news release from the BBB: Users receive an email from an account posing as WhatsApp with the subject line “Incoming Voice Message” and a time stamp of the message. Upon opening the message, the recipient is prompted to listen to a missed voicemail, but opening the email and pressing the play button triggers the malware download. Though the scam messages mimic the company branding, WhatsApp told the BBB that it would not email users unless it was in response to a customer request.

With 900 million active users as of Sept. 3, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in the world. Facebook acquired the app in February 2014.

Scammers pose as popular, trusted companies because it’s an effective way to access their targets, which is why consumers need to exercise caution, even when dealing with correspondence that seems to come from a service they regularly use. Pay attention to how that company usually interacts with you — anything out of the norm should send up a red flag. If you’re not sure whether an interaction is legitimate, take a few minutes to do an Internet search to see if there have been reports of a scam.

Falling victim to schemes like this often puts your personal information at risk for abuse or potentially exposes your bank accounts or other financial information to thieves. The prevalence of such scams and data breaches makes it extremely important for you to regularly monitor your accounts for unauthorized activity.

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