As we know, the Internet has seen a barrage of fake news in recent months. But now it’s holiday time, and a storm of fake apps has arrived to scam holiday online shoppers. Many of the fake apps are counterfeits of popular stores – ranging from Nordstrom to Dollar Tree to Christian Dior.
And while Apple is playing a game of whac-a-mole in removing fake apps from the App Store, they are still popping up every day.
The Dangers of Fake Retail Apps
This year, more people are expected to shop online than ever before. Online retailers are taking note and extending Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals through the week. But before you get excited about an amazing deal, understand that cybercriminals are waiting to prey on holiday online shoppers like you.
The risks of using a fake app include:
Financial Fraud: Scammers are taking advantage of the holiday season because it’s a time when many people are inputting credit card information online for purchasing gifts.
Malware: Fake apps can contain malware, which can steal your personal information or lock your phone until you pay a ransom.
Exposing data: Some fake apps ask for your Facebook login information so they can expose your sensitive personal data.
How to Spot a Fake App
Though Apple is remaining “vigilant” about spotting and removing fake apps before they put users at risk, there are things you can look out for yourself.
Verify the app’s publisher. Cybercriminals will intentionally use a name very similar to the real retail app they’re mimicking. For example, the real Overstock.com app is published by Overstock.com. But a fake app that popped up in the App Store was called Overstock Inc. trying to manipulate users.
Read the app’s reviews. A fake app will likely have very few or no reviews, or even bad reviews; while a real app with likely have hundreds or thousands of reviews or ratings. Look especially for positive ratings.
Look at the app’s published date. Since fake apps are popping up this time of year, you can stay weary of any app that was published very recently. Genuine apps will have been around for a while and list dates of when it was updated.
Take a closer look at the spelling. Read the app’s title and description. Any spelling or grammar errors are a red flag, as many of these fake apps originate in China.
Be cautious of “good” deals. Anything that sounds too good to be true is probably a fake.
If you want to ensure you choose the correct app to shop from, go directly to the retailer’s website and download the app from their link to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Don’t let cybercriminals be the Grinch of online holiday shopping. By following these tips, you can spot the fake retail apps they create and make sure your information stays secure this holiday season.