Private data shared by millions of Dutch Facebook users

This concerns data that was already captured in 2019. In that year, a database full of phone numbers of Facebook users was discovered by the website TechCrunch.

The data was allegedly collected by abusing a function to automatically look up contacts on Facebook. By entering random numbers in that function, profiles and telephone numbers could be linked to each other.

Request phone number from chatbot

Facebook said at the time that there was nothing to indicate that the phone numbers had been misused by malicious parties.

Later the data surfaced anyway. For example, a chatbot was built with which users could request the telephone numbers of random Facebook users via the Telegram messaging app.

So now the entire database of more than 533 million users has been published on the Internet. The data, which RTL Nieuws has seen, includes the name, place of residence, relationship status, employer and the mobile phone number of countless Dutch users. Some users can also find the e-mail address. No passwords are visible.

Can be used for scams

“The main danger of this leak is that the data can be used for fraud, for example via WhatsApp,” says tech journalist Daniël Verlaan. “The more data such a scammer has on you, the more convincing he can make the message.”

With the leaked data, scammers can try to gain your trust, for example by mentioning your name or employer.

Verlaan: “Watch out for phishing via SMS in the near future.”

What can you do against WhatsApp fraud?

1. If someone asks for money via WhatsApp: call that person on the number that you have from them – not the new number from which you receive the messages.

2. If you don’t get to speak to the person for whatever reason (the phone is broken, the connection is bad, the microphone isn’t working, etc.) – don’t transfer money.

3. To protect yourself against the hijacking of your 06 number, you can enable two-step verification on WhatsApp.


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