WhatsApp fans need to be on red alert as the New Year approaches, with a new scam emerging ahead of millions of chat app users relying on the Facebook-owned messaging platform to wish friends and family a happy 2021. This emerging WhatsApp scam sees users sent a series of suspicious-looking messages, which appears to show the progress of hackers trying to break into your account and steal your WhatsApp texts, photos, videos, and other key files.
As users watch, the troubling countdown finishes with a text message stating that 100 percent of your information has been stolen. After that, WhatsApp users are told their phone has been hacked.
For anyone who isn’t an expert in cybersecurity, that could be supremely concerning. Especially since so many of us keep private text messages, treasured family photos, or sensitive documents that we wouldn’t want to leak inside our WhatsApp files.
However, as popular Twitter account @WABetaInfo has pointed out, there is no reason to fret – this is all an elaborate con devised by scammers in order to send alarm bells ringing and cause panic. @WABetaInfo, which has uncovered a number of unfinished WhatsApp features ahead of release by analysing the beta – so knows a thing or two about WhatsApp, states these messages aren’t proof that you’ve been hacked and advised people not to send scammers any money if they’re asked to.
On Twitter WABetaInfo said: “If you receive any message like this on WhatsApp, you aren’t hacked. It’s fake. Please don’t panic. And if they ask for money, just ignore, report as spam and block! It’s very important”.
The warning comes as there have been increasing reports that from January 1, 2021, WhatsApp will block access to millions of smartphones. It has been claimed that from this date devices running anything below iOS 9 and Android 4.0.3 will not be able to access WhatsApp.
Such a change would impact a range of ageing devices such as the Apple iPhone 4. However, before you rush out to upgrade your phone there’s something worth pointing out.
While it is true WhatsApp is supporting iOS 9 and Android 4.0.3 at the very least, this change is not coming being enforced on January 1 2021.
In fact, this support change already came into effect earlier this year on February 1 2020. WhatsApp were warning about this change last year, with a message appearing on their iOS support page that previously said: “WhatsApp for iPhone requires iOS 9 or later. On iOS 8, you can no longer create new accounts or reverify existing accounts. If WhatsApp is currently active on your iOS 8 device, you’ll be able to use it until February 1, 2020. For the best experience, we recommend you use the latest version of iOS available for your phone.”
WhatsApp explained the decision to drop support for older devices was to ensure the app’s feature list could be expanded in the future.
But, the bottom line is if you’re still able to use WhatsApp on your phone right now – there’s no reason to worry that this could change once the clock strikes midnight on January 1.