Big stores are making shopping easier and more seamless with specially-made store apps. An app saves all your details, and all it takes is one click to order to and ship — plus, you may be entitled to special deals, especially during sales season. But watch out: Not all store and product apps are what they say they are.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has issued an alert about fake department store apps created by fraudsters that look like the real deal, but actually just steal your credit card and personal information, and may even install malware on your smartphone or tablet and then demand money to unlock it. These apps have been widely available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Here are the best ways to protect yourself by ensuring that the app you’re downloading is not fake:
- Any retailer or product that has an app promotes it on their website, often in a banner at the top of the webpage or in the bottom area. Just go to the appropriate website and look for the promotion. Clicking on the promotion will take you the bona fide app for iPhone/iPad or Android.
- It’s always a good idea to check reviews before you download an app. Real retailer and product apps have lots of reviews in the App Store and Google Play. Fake apps don’t last long before they’re removed from circulation, so they tend to have few reviews — usually glowing ones written by the app’s developers. Avoid downloading apps that have few or no reviews.
Apple has been working to remove fake apps from its App Store since the apps starting proliferating during the holiday shopping season, but scammers are finding ways to bypass the company’s review process. So, if you see a flashy download ad promising great deals, stop before you click!