BBB warning iPhone users about fake retail apps

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Better Business Bureau Serving Mississippi is warning iPhone users about fake retail apps popping up in Apple’s app store.

During this holiday season, the BBB said to be cautious about the fake apps.

Officials said the counterfeiters had impersonated themselves as retail chains like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, department stores such as Dillard’s and Nordstrom, high-end luxury-goods makers like Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior, and online retailers such as Zappos.com and Polyvore.

The apps appear to be legitimate retail store apps, but they are not. They said it’s easy to be fooled especially when companies don’t already have an existing app through Apple’s app store. While some of these apps appear to be relatively harmless and more of a pop-up junk app, others can take over and cause damage.

When you download the app and install it that is when these criminals can start attacking. Some fake apps contain malware that can steal a person’s information such a credit card and banking info; they can also lock your phone until the user pays a ransom to be able to use it again.

Some are even having users sign into their social media accounts so the hackers can gain access to that as well.

Earlier this month, Apple went on a sweeping spree and removed hundreds of fake apps from the app store. Unfortunately, even after Apple deleted those apps, new fake apps are still appearing every day. Many developers are changing the content of an app after it has already been approved by Apple’s monitors, or the counterfeiters are changing their name and credentials and resubmitting similar apps after the fake ones were discovered.

The BBB suggests consumers follow these tips:

  • Be very cautious when deciding what app to download. Read the reviews as well. The Dollar Tree app was a fake one that came up and one reviewer wrote how the app kept getting stuck in menus and closes what you are doing. Just remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Never click on a link in any email to download a new app. Go to the website of the retailer to get a link to the legitimate app in the App Store. Those email links are usually filled with viruses that can steal your personal information and even hold your computer hostage until you pay ransom.
  • If you do decide to use an app, give as little information as possible. Most apps don’t require a lot of information unless you are purchasing something. Even then, be cautious and make sure that app is the legitimate one before you make any purchases.
  • Be very reluctant to link your credit card to any app. If you link it and that app is compromised they could steal all your account info.

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