How to Differentiate Suspicious and Real WhatsApp Business Accounts

October 30, 2019 (Updated)

Conversational Messaging, Customer Service

With businesses finally adopting WhatsApp, the channel their customers use most in the world, so come the scammers. As a consumer, being able to differentiate a credible WhatsApp Business account from a suspicious one will help you stay protected while taking advantage of this new channel to interact with your favorite brands.

First, let’s explore what kind of verification and trust procedures already exist in WhatsApp accounts that you can use to inform yourself about the level of trust you can have with any given business on the platform.

What the green and gray checkmark badges in WhatsApp profiles mean

There are three statuses to WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Official Business Accounts: Verified, Confirmed, and Unconfirmed. They have different visual cues and indicate different levels of trustworthiness. 

Verified: The most trustworthy status a business on WhatsApp can have, it includes a clear green checkmark badge that appears in the profile. When a business has this badge, it means that WhatsApp has verified that an authentic brand owns and operates the account. With this green tick mark, you can be sure you are in fact communicating with who you think you are communicating with. 

Confirmed: A gray checkmark badge appears on the profiles of confirmed businesses. This badge simply indicates that the phone number of the account matches the phone number for the business it claims to be. WhatsApp has not verified that it is an authentic brand operating the account, however. 

Unconfirmed: These accounts are simply “Business Accounts” without badges. They can be any business or person using the WhatsApp Business App (as opposed to the normal WhatsApp app). The app allows them to use quick responses, and organize messages in more depth but does not mean they are really a business. Use special caution when sharing personal information with these accounts as they are not accounted for. 

A Verified WhatsApp Business Account looks like this:

And a regular (confirmed or unconfirmed) account looks like this:

It’s important to indicate that WhatsApp has said that business verification and confirmation don’t indicate an endorsement of a business by WhatsApp.

What kind of accounts can businesses have on WhatsApp?

There are two types of WhatsApp Business Accounts: Official Business Accounts and Business Accounts. 

Business Accounts are, by default, any account that is using the WhatsApp Business API or the WhatsApp Business App. 

Official Business Accounts have been verified by WhatsApp that an authentic brand owns the account. An official business account has a green checkmark badge in its profile and chat thread headers indicating that it is an official business account. The name of the business is visible even if you haven’t added the business to your address book.

Businesses can’t pay to become an Official Business Account. 

Best practices to avoid scams from accounts posing as businesses on WhatsApp

While it’s easy to spot fully verified accounts, there are plenty of real business accounts on WhatsApp that are not yet fully verified. Some are suspicious, but others aren’t. To protect yourself, you can follow these best practices when interacting with businesses on WhatsApp:

  • Use caution when sharing personal or sensitive information, like birthdates, passwords, financial data or account numbers on WhatsApp or anywhere online
  • Remember that the green checkmark badge is the highest level of verification available. Just because a business doesn’t have a green check does not mean that it’s a false account; but, if a business has one, you can be sure you are really talking with that business. 
  • Consider where you found the account: if it is from a brand’s official website, you can likely trust the number. A number that messages you first, or that was passed through a friend, group, or 3rd party website may be more suspicious

Finally, if you are a business and want to get a green verification checkmark, you can apply directly through Facebook after enabling two factor authentication and confirming your phone number. If you work with Hubtype as a client, we handle this for you.

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