By Christy McLeap

The holiday season is among us and that’s means some shopping, shopping and more shopping. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving the areas of Central California & the Inland Empire Counties has issued a warning for all iPhone users regarding a multitude of fake retail apps appearing in Apple’s app store.

Be on the lookout as these counterfeiters have impersonated and positioned themselves as big retail chains like Dollar Tree, Foot Locker, Nordstrom, Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior, and even online retailers such as Zappos.com and Polyvore.

At a quick glance these apps appear to be all good and legitimate, but they are easily able to fool you; particularly when some of these stores and companies don’t already have an existing app available through Apple’s app store.

Be weary as these counterfeiters camouflage themselves as the real thing. Some of these apps might appear to be seemingly harmless, however some of them can take over and really cause damage.

Some of these fake apps contain malware that can steal your personal information like credit card and banking info. Plus they can also lock your phone until you pony up a ransom to be able to use your device again. Certain fake apps are even having users sign into their social media accounts; giving hackers access to that as well.

Earlier this month, the New York Times asked about these issues and after the inquiry, Apple then removed hundreds of fake apps from the app store. Unfortunately though, even after those fake apps were deleted by Apple new fake apps are appearing every day.

Apple hasn’t figured out the best solution to this problem yet and until then the, BBB has recommended you follow these tips to protect yourself from these fake apps.

  • Be extremely cautious when deciding to download a particular app. Read as many reviews on the app as you can. For instance the app for The Dollar Tree was a fake and one reviewer wrote how the app kept getting stuck in menus and closes what you are doing.
  • Don’t click on a link in an email to download a new app. You should go to the retailer’s website and get a link to their legitimate app in the App Store. Emails links are more likely than not to be filled with viruses that steal your personal information and as mentioned earlier can hold your computer hostage until you pay a monetary ransom.
  • If you do find an app you want and you decide to use it, give out as little personal information as possible. Typically apps don’t usually need a lot of information from you unless you are buying something. Even then, you should try to be very cautious and make sure that app is indeed the real one before you attempt to make any purchases.
  • Also you should be weary to link your credit card information to any app. If you link your information to it and that app is compromised, your info could be stolen.

BBB wants you to be wise and to protect yourself. Not only is this scam happening, there are many others and you can view more scams in your area, or to report suspected scams by clicking here for the scam tracker.

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