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BBB offers tips on how to avoid app store scams

better business bureau bbb
Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 26, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Thousands of apps are now available on virtually every subject but the BBB Serving Central Indiana says there are a lot of apps that aren't legit.

The BBB shared the following tips:

  • Don’t rely solely on a high star rating when deciding to download. Keep in mind that shady app developers can generate or purchase fake reviews and can artificially push good reviews to the top of the list by getting fake users to mark them as “helpful.” One tell-tale sign of a scam is when an app has thousands of five-star reviews with no written comments and hundreds of one-star reviews with negative comments. App developers may have purchased the good reviews to cover up the bad reviews that expose the app as a fraud.
  • Read the app’s privacy policy before you download. Take a few minutes to read the app’s terms of service and privacy policy and take note of what personal information the app will access and how it will use that information. If the permissions don’t make sense, it could be a red flag (for example, if a weather radar app says it needs access to your contacts to work). In addition, any app that doesn’t have a privacy policy is probably not safe to use.
  • Make sure you download the real version of any app you look for specifically. One popular tactic scammers use is to create copycat apps to trick people into downloading. If you are looking for a popular app, keep in mind it may not be the first to appear on the list after you search for it. Look out for similar, but not-quite-right logos and app developer names that don’t look legitimate. Read the app’s description text carefully, too. Impostor apps often contain descriptions that don’t make sense, or spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Do regular app housekeeping. Out of date apps are particularly vulnerable to hackers. This is because they may have security issues that haven’t been addressed through updates. If you haven’t used an app in a few months, or you notice an app hasn’t been updated by the developer recently, it’s probably best to delete it.
  • Report fraudulent apps. If you spot an app scam, report it. In the Google Play store, you can flag an app as inappropriate and then explain the reason. In a recent update to Apple’s iOS, you can now “report a problem” on any app’s description page and then select “report a scam or fraud.” You can also report app scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

Watch the video in the player above to learn more.