That’s actually my problem with Whatsapp. By using a phone number, it means that people who change phones/sims, etc. have a problem. I travelled out of the U.S in 2010 for about 6 months and while away I set up Whatsapp on a foreign SIM. When I got back to the U.S I completely forgot to deactivate the account, so now whoever has my old number, if they happen to use Whatsapp all my contacts will pop-up on his/her list. I have no idea how to deactivate that account without getting that phone number back, which I can’t.
Likewise, I am sure that there are a few contacts on my list who aren’t who I think they are because they’re on numbers that my friends have switched from – but I’m not gonna be like “hey, is that you James, or is this some stranger with your old phone number?”. Whatsapp should rely on an additional system, like maybe a login and password or even just a registration number, so that when people switch their phone numbers without deactivating their accounts, they can get back their Whatsapp account.
Now, I’ve just set it up on my Google Voice number which I don’t ever plan on changing.