University of Wisconsin–Madison
Fake Apps

How to spot fake apps in the app store

A good app makes your online experience even better, but how can you tell if you’ve got the real deal?

Just in time for the holidays, investigative reports have discovered hundreds of counterfeit shopping apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store.

Some of these apps will only display annoying banner ads.  Others could have more serious consequences.

There is the potential that some apps may contain malware that could steal personal information. Scammers could also benefit from unsuspecting customers entering credit card information into the bogus apps.

Not so surprisingly, many of the red flags to look out for are similar to the red flags you can use to protect yourself from phishing email scams.

Tips to help you identify the real apps from the fake ones:

  • Check to see who published the app. Be careful, though, scammers will use similar names; such was the case for (real) and Overstock Inc (fake).
  • Check the reviews in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store. A real app will likely have thousands of (hopefully positive) reviews, while a fake one will likely have zero.
  • Look at the publish date. A fake app will have a recent publish date, while the a real one will have an “updated on” date. For example, that fake Overstock app was only published on October 26 of this year.
  • Check for spelling or grammatical mistakes in the title or description. Take extra caution if it appears that English isn’t the developers’ first language.
  • Beware of apps that promise shopping discounts. Sound too good to be true? It probably is.
  • When in doubt, visit a store’s website in your browser and look for an icon or button that reads “Get our app.” This will take you to the App Store or Google Play store where you can download the correct app.

Source: cnet