Mobile phone users in South Africa are being hit with SMS messages from a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) stating, ‘you have not updated to the latest WhatsApp Add-ons.’
The text prompts them to click a link, which takes them to a page with a green ‘CONTINUE’ button.
If people press on the ‘CONTINUE’ button – and do not read all the fine print underneath – they will be charged 7 Rand a day (more than 200 Rand a month) on their phone bills.
It is technically legal for the WASP providers to do this, as they are being upfront on their page about the added fees (in fine print under the CONTINUE button).
However, they send out millions of these SMS messages and count on people NOT reading the fine print, as they are busy. This makes a lot of money for the WASP providers.
To make matters worse, people often do not realize for some time that they are being billed anything extra due to the small amounts. The process for opting out is sometimes made exceptionally difficult. And, once people do manage to opt out, some WASP providers may reportedly stop for a few weeks and then commence again, hoping that the person will not notice.
Never update WhatsApp by following a link in a message.
Update the application via the update option in settings as described in the WhatsApp FAQ.