Fake apps made to look exactly like real ones. Amy explains what you need to know

(Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

You probably have an app for just about everything. Today, we have a warning for those apps on your phone or other devices. Thieves are using the app store to trick people, so we’ll how to tell if you accidentally downloaded one of these fake apps.

Fake app warning!

We get a lot of questions about internet safety and how to know if something online is legit. Now that just about everything has an app - we have a warning about looking closely before you download those apps.

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“Really you can stumble across copycat apps or imposter apps,” says Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau. “They may be looking very similar to a well-known app, but they are trying to steal your personal information or access your account in various ways.”

Here are a few “fake app” warning signs to look out for:

  • App wants to know too much: Before downloading, it asks for *more personal information. Especially if it’s information unrelated to the app. Read the app’s terms of service and privacy policy and take note of what personal information the app will access and how it will use that information. If the permissions don’t make sense (for example, if a weather radar app says it needs access to your contacts to work), it could be a red flag. The BBB says any app that doesn’t have a privacy policy is probably not safe to use.
  • The app acts weird: A fake app may act very buggy - like disappearing or reappearing from the screen.
  • The battery drains fast: You know you have an issue if the battery on your device suddenly drains quickly. This could mean the fraudsters are watching what you are doing on your phone and getting your personal information.
  • Ratings are super high: Even the best apps have some negative reviews. So, if you see an app that has thousands of five-star reviews, something might be up, especially if those ratings have no comments.

What should I do if I download a fake app?

If you think you downloaded one of these fake apps, delete it immediately and let the app store know. You might want to check your kids’ devices too. You can now “report a problem” or flag suspicious apps in both the Google Play store and the Apple app store. You can also report app scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

If you have a question or topic idea for us, email askamy@kprc.com and we will work to find you an answer!

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.