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Beware of Look Alike Apps

It seems like everyone uses apps these days, and it’s hard not to with how popular smartphones and tablets have become. There is an app for everything or just about, Apps can make the programs they represent simpler and more user-friendly, so the first thing most people do when they get a shiny, new smart device is download their favorite apps. But consumers need to exercise caution when trying out new apps due to a rise in what have been deemed “look-alike apps”.

The New York Times and New York Post both reported a surge in counterfeit shopping apps in the Apple Store. There have also been issues with the apps found in the Google PlayStore for Android devices. These apps increase in numbers especially around the holidays, and while some of them are easier to spot due to glaring design issues (like annoying banner ads), some are much harder to identify.

These apps could include malware which could, in turn, steal personal information. Scammers can use these apps to benefit from unsuspecting customers who make credit card purchases through these fake apps.

Here are some tips to help you identify the fake apps from the real ones.

  • Look at the app publisher very carefully. Scammers will often use names similar to legitimate app companies to trick people.

Ex: (real) VS. Overstock Inc (fake)

  • Check the reviews in the app store. The real app will usually have hundreds (if not thousands) of reviews, meanwhile, fakes one will have very few, if any at all.
  • Take note of the publish date. Apps will usually tell you when they were published, and fake apps will have a recent publish date while the real app should feature and “updated on” date.
  • Spellcheck. Look for spelling mistakes in the title or descriptions. It’s not uncommon for these fake apps to be developed oversees, particularly in China, so look for clues that English may not be the first language of the developer.
  • Does the app sound too good to be true? Little known apps that promise shopping discounts can be a huge red flag. Use your best judgment on these ones.

When in doubt, visit the main website of the app you’re looking to download. From there, find the “Get Our App” icon and let it take you to the correct app in the app store. 

Learn more tips and tricks from the Quick Heal Blog

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About the Author

Emma is an Adult Services Librarian with the New Berlin Public Library... Read More »

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