With holiday shopping coming to a peak, shoppers are advised to beware of fake retail apps. These shopping apps act like and look like authentic shopping apps, but are actually scams targeting consumers’ private data.
What’s at Stake?
Your credit card information, mailing address, and personal details can be maliciously collected via fake retail apps, resulting in identity theft or fraudulent activity on your bank accounts.
Ransomware is another possible result of using one of these malicious apps. After a user downloads and enters their information the app locks down the phone and attempts to extort money out of the user in order to unlock the phone.
Between the possible threat of identity theft or a costly malware infection on your smartphone, it’s essential to stay wise to the possibility that your shopping app is not what you think it is…
How to Avoid Fake Retail Apps
Go Directly to the Source
Download the shopping app you want directly from the retailer’s website. That way you can be confident that the app is legitimate and not a fake app posing in its place.
Apps that are offered via an unsolicited email or shared online from an untrusted source should be scrutinized closely. Don’t just click on a link that your dear aunt emailed you, because it could very well be spam instead of a well-intentioned message from a trusted source.
Related Read: 5 Shopping Rewards Apps That Will Make You Money
The purchase process for most things online is fairly standard: your name, shipping or billing address, and purchase details. If possible, use a secure payment processor like SafeCart or PayPal to add an extra level of security. In fields that are optional—take it for what they are: optional. The less non-essential information you share the less you are compromising your privacy.
The same goes for the app’s settings. A shopping app shouldn’t need full access to your phone’s camera, pictures, contacts list, social media… you get the point. Be sure to review the app’s default settings and make any changes you see fit to keep your data private while shopping online.
Look Before You Click
It is all too easy to breeze past the fine print and installation guides when you’re used to downloading apps from the Google Play Store and Apple Store on a regular basis. When it comes to your credit card data and overall online privacy, it’s always worth it to make sure your app is safe.
What to check:
- Does the shopping app’s name and logo match up with the retailer?
- Does the developer and publisher match the info about the retailer?
- Has the app been reviewed? If so, what’s the overall user experience?
- Are there glaring typos?
Tiny details such as those listed above can help you spot and quickly avoid fake retail apps.
Report a Scam
If you believe you have come across a fake retail app, you can report it to the Better Business Bureau.
If you believe you have accidentally used one of these fake retail apps, immediately contact your bank and change your email passwords so you can shut down the potential hack in its tracks.
Related Read: How Fake News is Tricking Us All