4 Tips to Protect Yourself From Fake Shopping Apps

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Remembering these tips can keep you from downloading a malicious app.

Fake retail apps continue to pop up. These impostor apps are designed to look like legitimate shopping apps from actual retailers. Using them can risk putting your sensitive information in the hands of criminals, however.

Branding Brand, a company that creates shopping apps for major retailers, reported a surge in fake retail apps appearing in Apple’s App Store about a month ago. A blog post explained:

This can happen to any retailer at any time… Retailers, like Dillard’s and Dollar Tree, are seeing backlash from their loyal customers trying to download what they believe is the brand’s official app.

Since then, many fake retail apps have been pulled from the App Store, according to Branding Brand. New ones continue to pop up, however, prompting the company to issue advice for consumers about how they can protect themselves.

To avoid downloading a malicious app, Branding Brand suggests you:

  1. Pay attention to details. A retailer’s logo can be copied. So check out other key information like the brand and developer names, which should appear clean and free of typos.
  2. Download retail apps from retailers’ websites to be safe. While not all retailers offer apps, those that do usually market their apps on their website.
  3. Read the reviews. Possible indicators of a fake app include overall user ratings of less than three stars and reviews that cite issues such as a poor user experience or prevalent ads. Conversely, be wary of brand-new apps with only a few reviews that are all positive. Some creators of fake apps write their own reviews.
  4. Scrutinize the developer. The name of the developer and the app should match. If you click on the developer’s name, you should not find apps for unrelated brands.

Gary Miliefsky, CEO of cybersecurity firm Snoopwall, tells CBS News this week that the criminals behind fake apps aim to get your personal information, like your credit card number.

In order to make their apps convincing, he says:

“They give you a complete shopping cart experience. Everything through the ‘Congratulations, here’s your order number, it’s on its way,’ and then you’ll never get the goods.”

What do you make of the rise of counterfeit shopping apps? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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