Each year it seems that the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. As soon as the jack-o-lanterns and super hero costumes are put away, the wreaths and sparkly lights seem to appear, as if by the flick of a magic wand. Unfortunately, the fraudsters are at it earlier and earlier too and hundreds of phony shopping apps have been spotted in Apple’s App Store for those in the holiday spirit already to get duped right at the start of the season.
Phony shops such as Dollar Tree, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Zappos, and Footlocker as well as designer name brand shops such as Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior have been found in the app store without being caught by Apple’s review process.
Always use caution when downloading apps, even from the app store. As more and more apps apply to get into the various stores, it is more difficult for the companies to review and approve all of them. The Apple App Store has over 2 million apps already. That puts more pressure on the consumer to do research and make sure the apps are the real ones. Read the reviews to see what others are saying and if they aren’t so good, perhaps it’s best to skip it. In addition, if there are no or very few reviews, particularly for a large department store, second-guess it. While being an early adopter has its perks for a lot of things, in this case patience is a virtue. Wait a few weeks before trying again. If results are the same, it’s probably one of the fake ones.
Many of the fake apps seem to come from Chinese developers who are paid to write the apps in English. One had a menu with drastically misspelled English words, such as spelling Friday as “Firday.” Keep an eye out for those types of errors too and if there are any, don’t use the app.
Don’t assume that Android apps are safe. In fact, because of the less restrictive policy for getting apps into the Google Play store, there are similar risks of downloading phony apps there.
The recent apps have largely been found to pop up annoying ads rather than do real damage. However, some of them do ask for payment card information and other personal details. Therefore, if there is any doubt about the app’s legitimacy, don’t download it or delete it if you already have.
While you’re at it, make sure your devices are updated with the latest versions of the operating systems and apps, and confirm that anti-malware is installed on them and is updated too. As mobile becomes a preferred way to shop, it’s more likely that malicious apps that do harm will show up.
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