Some users have reportedly received a WhatsApp notification text message asking them to renew their subscription. The new scam notification, which is targeted at WhatsApp users, is asking them to pay 99p to continue using the service.
According to Birmingham Mail, some users have already fallen victim of the text message warning them that their subscription to the service has “expired.” Of course, this is not true as WhatsApp no longer charge members for using their service. Users are therefore warned to ignore any link included in such messages, and install and run a virus scan on their device in case they have already clicked on the link.
The content of the text message reads: “Your subscription has expired. To verify your account and purchase a lifetime subscription for just 0.99 GDP simply tap on this link…” Of course, this is not true as WhatsApp dropped its 99p per annum subscription fee in 2016. The company has not come out to say it has started charging users again, and until then, it is important to ignore any such message.
When WhatsApp was charging users, the fee was only applicable to a handful of countries, such as the US and the UK, where most of the residents had credit cards or were more likely to pay for some things through their mobile phones. This, perhaps, explains why the scammers are targeting people in Britain—and I guess they have their eyes on credit cards.
In 2016, WhatsApp in a blog post had taken time to explain why it decided to discontinue its annual subscription plan for members:
“For many years, we’ve asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well. Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year. So over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service.”
Zuckerberg not buying the idea of monetizing the chat app is another strong reason why the subscription was discontinued:
“Our strategy is to grow and connect people. Once we get to 2-3 billion people there are ways we can monetize, he said shortly after completing the acquisition of the chat app in October, 2014.
“Now we want to focus on growing users. I don’t think ads are the right way here.”
While there are no plans to support or accept ads from businesses for now, the company is already working on a number of tools to encourage communication between brands and individuals:
The company said back in 2016 that users will soon be able to communicate with businesses and organizations that they want to hear from. “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.”