PC Doctor June 1, 2018
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Dear PC Doctor:
I keep getting emails on my computer about something called WhatsApp. What is this? I decided not to open them because I don’t like the way they look. But then, I wondered if someone was trying to get in touch with me, and now they think I’m ignoring them. Can you shed a little light on this?
WhatsApp is an app. It can be used on iPhones, Windows Phone, Android devices, and mac and PC computers. It allows messaging over the internet without SMS fees. WhatsApp voice and video features allow you to have telephone calls, even international ones, using the internet instead of an international calling plan.
The New York Times did report a WhatsApp scam in 2017. The email messages people were receiving made it look like they had missed a voice call over the app. The people who received them weren’t actively using the app, and that’s what made them suspicious, as you are. According to the Times, this particular scam is malware masquerading as a voice message. When you open the message, the malware gets installed on your computer or device. Some version of this has been around at least since 2013.
WhatsApp has a guide for dealing with potentially hoax messages on their site. You can see it here: https://faq.whatsapp.com/en/general/28030005
You were smart not to open these messages. If you decide that they are unsolicited malware, you can add a layer of security by marking them as spam or blacklisting them in your email program.
Until next time,
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