The Better Business Bureau serving Vancouver Island is warning consumers to use caution when purchasing retail store or online shopping apps.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the past year in the use of mobile devices for online shopping,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island. “And with this increased use there has been an increase in the development of mobile shopping apps and likewise, scam artists creating fake apps to try to rip people off.”
Counterfeit apps are designed to look and feel like they belong to legitimate retail stores. Popular brand named retail stores such as Jimmy Choo, Foot Locker, Nordstrom, Dollar Tree, Christian Dior and Zappos are only a few businesses to have counterfeit apps created using their brand names.
In some cases, the fake apps are relatively harmless and only result in an influx of pop-up junk ads in the app. In other cases, when the fake app is installed and opened on your phone, phishing scams begin, credit card information is stolen or malware is installed with the intent of stealing passwords and private banking information. In some instances, phones are even being locked down and held hostage until a ransom is paid to the scam artist.
“Both the Apple App Store and Google Play have seen an influx of fake retail apps popping up this holiday season, and while they are working tirelessly to shut down fake apps, the sheer volume of new apps being created is difficult to police,” said Scott.
If you find yourself the victim of a fake app scam be sure to: have your phone scanned for viruses and malware; inform all your financial institutions; immediately change your account passwords; and report the scam online at: www.bbb.org/scamtracker.
For more information about BBB or for additional consumer and business tips visit bbb.org/Vancouver-island.