There is a new phishing scam targeting users of Facebook-owned messaging service, WhatsApp, and it wants users to spend for what is supposed to be a free application and service.
According to WhatsApp users in the United Kingdom, many have received message notifications from the application itself informing them that their subscription to the service has expired. The message also contains a link which a user must supposedly click in order to pay $1.28 for a lifetime subscription.
The message is believable since WhatsApp charged the same amount after a year of free service back when it was not owned by Facebook, but professionals say that this new round of expired subscription notification is definitely a scam. Users should be wary about clicking the provided link or, better yet, delete the message and block the sender when they do receive it.
Identifying And Reporting The WhatsApp Scam
According to reports, the scam message is made to look like it came from WhatsApp developers to effectively fool users. The message informs the user about the expired subscription but offers a way to extend it.
"To verify your account and purchase a lifetime subscription for just 0.99 GBP simply tap on this link," the message reads.
It is then followed by another message with a shortened URL link via bit.ly which leads to a webpage where the user can pay for the "subscription."
As mentioned earlier, WhatsApp did charge the same amount before Facebook acquired it but it has since been a completely free service since 2013. The company also warns users to be wary of messages that ask them to tap or click on a link, ask for personal or credit card information, and ask for payment for continued usage of the application.
Even the WhatsApp FAQ page has been updated since the acquisition to reflect this information under the Spam and Hoaxes subhead.
"WhatsApp is a free app. We will never ask you to pay to use WhatsApp and you do not have to do anything to use WhatsApp for free," the company states.
WhatsApp developers request that users who encounter spam and hoaxes immediately block the sender and report it so appropriate action can be done to stop it.
If users receive a spam or hoax message from an unknown sender, they are automatically given the option to report the number straight from the application. Android and iOS users can also report the issue by going to Settings > About and Help > Contact Us, while Windows phone users should go to more > settings > about > support.
As an extra precautionary measure to stop the scam quicker, WhatsApp users should also inform their family and friends who may receive the scam message.
WhatsApp users from other countries are also advised to block and report similar messages if and when they do receive one which reflects their own country's currency.