WASHINGTON, January 23, 2017 – Why weather the crowded malls for desired goods, when everything you need can be found, purchased, and delivered via a smartphone app in a matter of minutes?
That’s the mindset of many shoppers this year, but they’re not the only ones seeing opportunity. Scammers are upping their game with fake apps designed to trick you out of your credit card details and personal information. What seems like a trustworthy or harmless app has the potential of not only cheating your loved ones out of a gift, but ruining your finances for the coming year.
But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from your iPhone or Android.
Fake apps have a few signature warning signs that can tip you off before you enter in your information, so you can still enjoy shopping on your mobile without the risk. What do you need to know to avoid an app scam this shopping season?
1. How to Spot a Fake App
Always trust in what’s tried and true. Major corporations are generally trustworthy, so before you download and start shopping through an app, see if it was created by large brand names you already have faith in.
There’s no need to risk a great deal through a little-known brand that may turn out to be a scam.
Furthermore, be sure to compare brand names and search if that particular developer has made other apps. If you’re shopping with Best Buy, they will likely offer only one app or other apps of that nature, while a fake will create a wide range of apps.
They may also take on a big brand name with a few false tweaks – such as Walmart versus Walmart.com.
2. Go to Store Websites Directly
An app is only valuable to a business if it’s being noticed by consumers, so no reputable seller is going to miss the chance to advertise it on their website. A scammer won’t take the time to develop a quality website and gather a real following just to make a few bucks during the holiday season, so if you’re not sure about an app, research the developer. If you don’t find much, it’s a warning sign. If you’re shopping with big-named store apps such as Walmart or Amazon, go to them directly through your phone or hybrid cloud and look for a link; that will be the reputable one.
3. Trust in Reviews
An excellent shopping app will have the reviews to support this reputation, while fake ones will have almost no reviews or ones warning you against its scam. If you only see a handful of reviews for a large brand, such as Amazon, you can be sure something is amiss, as it’s a widely popular and loved app with a great deal of feedback. A scammer may have newly created the app and hasn’t been caught as a fraud yet, explaining the lack of reviews.
4. Be Wary of Extreme Deals
Some deals are too great to believe. A scammer realizes they only have limited time to rake in money before word spreads of their criminal activities, and nothing will encourage an innocent but impulsive buy quite like an outrageous deal. If you find pricey items sold almost for free or Christmas gifts at a marked-down price a fraction of other reputable stores, don’t give over your credit card information. Getting a fantastic deal isn’t worth the loss of money or possibly identity theft. Instead, be willing to spend a little more for peace of mind.
5. Check for the Quality of the Writing
Scammers realize they won’t have massive success and are looking to put as little effort into their fake app as possible. Because of this, the title of the app, the description, and the features listed will be badly done, may contain spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammar errors, and even contradictory information. This is your first sign that an app is not legitimate because even if it isn’t fake, it shows a lack of quality that could reflect the product you’re buying.
If the copywriting (the writing on the app) is bad, steer clear.