PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The holiday shopping season is underway, and there’s a new consumer alert for online shoppers.
In recent weeks, a slew of fake retail apps have popped up in Apple’s app store.
“For the holiday season, we’re seeing a lot more now, they seem to be overwhelming even Apple’s ability to screen them out before they go up,” said Dan Ackerman, of CNET.
But experts say there are steps you can take to protect your wallet. Ackerman says the first line of defense is to check who published the app.
“So, if I go to the Overstock app, the real one, it says it’s by overstock.com,” said Ackerman. “One of the fake ones that we’re talking about, it’s by Overstock, Inc.”
Since the names are so similar in this case, it’s not completely clear which app is legit. So, the next test, check the number of reviews and ratings.
“If I look down here at the customer ratings, I see there’s a lot of ratings and reviews for this Overstock app. Lifetime there’s over 10,000 of them and it got an average of four stars. To me, that’s a sign that this is the legitimate app from the legitimate company,” Ackerman says.
When you go to the fake app, Ackerman says, “There are no customer ratings, and there are no reviews here. In fact, this app was only published a few days ago.”
Also, take a close look at the app description and instructions.
“If there are a lot of typos and mistakes and it doesn’t seem like they were written by someone whose first language is English, that’s a big red flag right there,” Ackerman said.
A safer way to download the app is to visit the website of the store you’re interested in and downloading the app from there.
Apple says it’s removed hundreds of fake apps from its store, but new ones are being created every day.