Communication has gone cheaper and easier with the invention of instant messaging social media platforms which allow users to chat with their friends and relatives. Some platforms allow users to call each other; but worth mentioning is that these social networking sites are prone to scamming.
WhatsApp, a popular instant messaging application, has been hit by a scam which is costing users much of their airtime. Scammers are sending an SMS that advertises WhatsApp add-ons from a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) that reads, “You have not updated to the latest WhatsApp Add-ons”. The SMS prompt the user to ‘click’ or rather press on a link.
Liron Segev, an IT consultant and prominent technology blogger, says by clicking the link, a user will be directed to the phone’s web browser which leads to a page that has a big green button that says “continue”.
Unknowingly to people who click the “continue” button is that there is a danger of omitting a fine print at the bottom of the page which has details pertaining the costs incurred when one uses the service – the service deducts R7 per day off their phone bill.
This will mean that a user will pay monthly bill phone bill of over R200. These WASPS could earn large amounts of money considering that WhatsApp has 10 million users alone in South Africa.
Segev said, ‘They’ll catch you when you’re not focusing. You’ll put a couple of clicks in; nothing will happen. You’ll think nothing of it, but then little amounts of money come off your account without you realizing it.”
The IT consultant has this to say to those who are already affected:
“the first thing is phone the service provider and say you no longer wish to be part of this particular service and opt out of it immediately.
“Try to go the original website and try opting out there, but they probably will make it so difficult that it becomes a no-end game.
“The main thing is to report it, and keep your eye on it continuously to make sure it doesn’t stop for a while and then restart.”
He added that this form of SMS sign up scam is just one of many as other organisations distribute SMSes prompting users to deactivate or even upgrade WhatsApp.