A handful of users took to X to complain about their phone numbers being banned on Telegram – despite having never actually used the platform.
“In the past 48 hours, I got numerous notifications inside Telegram saying that "Friend x has joined Telegram". After asking my friends if they really signed up for Telegram, they said no,” a reader from Lebanon told Cybernews.
Whenever someone from your contact list joins Telegram, the social platform sends you a notification so that you can say “hi” to them. Having learned that none of the people actually registered an account on Telegram, our reader got curious and asked one of their friends to try and join the platform for real.
“But they couldn't and instead received an error in the app saying that their phone number is banned,” our reader said. More of their friends were allegedly banned on Telegram, so they reported the issue to the platform, saying there’s been “a hacking incident.”
A handful of people took to X to complain about their numbers being banned on Telegram. Unfortunately, some of them are even sharing their phone numbers on social media asking for help.
First of all, we suggest checking whether your number has been leaked in the past using our personal data leak checker. If your phone number has been leaked, it’s circling the web together with millions of other phone numbers, and threat actors will try their luck by exploiting the database once in a while.
In fact, a team of investigative journalists from Turkey recently reported an uptick in WhatsApp-related scams, suggesting that a dataset of leaked phone numbers has resurfaced somewhere on the dark web.
Threat actors might be using leaked phone numbers for doxxing, SIM-swapping attacks, and old-school phone scams, among other things.
In this case, it’s possible that someone used leaked phone numbers to mass-create accounts that could later be used for, let’s say, disinformation. Attackers might also be using phone generators to randomly get a phone number and register an account.
At this point, we can’t be 100% sure what happened. However, the issue seems to be limited to a small number of people.
Before sounding the alarm bells, you should also check whether your country has banned Telegram. It’s been on and off for Brazil's population. Just a few days ago, Somalia banned TikTok and Telegram because of “violent extremists.” This caused an outrage by some locals for whom the platforms are a major source of income.
Cybernews has reached out to Telegram’s press team but hasn’t heard back before going to press.
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