The best way to Spot iOS Apps That Are Scams


Lifehacker’s Complete Guide to iOSLifehacker’s Complete Guide to iOSApple’s iPhone is simple to study, however tough to grasp. As an alternative of spending hours sifting by means of settings your self, try our big assortment of guides, ideas, and methods for all issues iOS.

We often call out shady apps discovered on the Google Play Store, however Apple’s App Retailer affords its fair proportion of threats, too. The platform is teeming with iOS apps that rip-off unsuspecting customers into expensive—and in some instances, undisclosed—in-app transactions. These apps conceal their scams in in any other case legit options to avoid Apple’s vetting course of, then inflate their person scores with pretend evaluations and downloads.

Predatory apps aren’t a current phenomenon. In 2019, a notorious iOS heart rate monitor app reappeared on the App Store simply eight months after it was banned for scamming customers out of their hard-earned money. The app claimed to make use of the fingerprint Contact ID scanner discovered on some iOS units to trace the person’s pulse. Nonetheless, customers have been unwittingly utilizing their fingerprints to approve an $89 transaction within the background.

On the time of the app’s return, Apps Exposed reported greater than 500 different iOS apps used related techniques to con customers. Lots of these apps have since been eliminated, however new ones seem on the App Retailer each day.

Unsurprisingly, many are based mostly round grownup content material—particularly peer-to-peer video chatting, free pornography, and informal intercourse. That stated, many con apps aren’t based mostly round grownup content material; loads of different classes—photograph/video filters, quizzes and video games, well being and wellness, and backgrounds or UI themes—are frequent targets as nicely.

A more moderen instance, as identified by Kosta Eleftheriou on Twitter, is Star Gazer+. On the time of Eleftheriou’s Tweets, the app had over 80,000 scores averaging 4.6 stars (as of this writing, it now has a 4.4-star ranking based mostly on over 1,100 evaluations). At first look, it looks as if this can be a legit app—nevertheless, learn by means of the evaluations and also you’ll discover a very completely different story. The bulk are 1 star, and virtually all of them name out egregious, surprising in-app purchases. Many customers discovered they have been signed up for a expensive subscription merely for tapping an “replace” button.

Regardless of the detrimental evaluations and person complaints, Star Gazer+ continues to be out there on the App Retailer with a positive common ranking and plenty of clearly pretend 5-star evaluations—as are lots of of different rip-off apps. A few of these apps have managed to bilk lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} in complete income from customers in simply the final 12 months.

It’s stunning that so many con apps skirt the App Retailer’s strict insurance policies, however their prevalence suggests Apple is unable—or unwilling—to take care of them correctly. Positive, perhaps these app builders aren’t breaking a legislation or infecting customers with malware, however they’re nonetheless performing maliciously. And till Apple takes this subject significantly, it’s as much as the person to maintain these merchandise off their units.

Listed below are some tricks to maintain your self protected from rip-off apps on the App Retailer:

  • Learn person evaluations totally earlier than downloading. Sure, even when the typical scores are excessive and there are tons of them. In case you look exhausting sufficient and comb by means of the evaluations, you’ll discover some calling out these apps for being scams.
  • Examine exterior sources. Cross-reference unfamiliar apps on person boards, Reddit, and blogs like Apps Uncovered earlier than downloading.
  • Know your system’s limitations. If an app flaunts options or companies that appear too good to be true, it’s in all probability a pretend. Don’t obtain it or purchase something it’s promoting.
  • Look out for hidden subscriptions. Whereas many free apps supply further paid premium options and in-app purchases, don’t subscribe to an app to make use of options or entry content material that’s freely out there elsewhere.
  • Name-out scams in the event you discover one. Shady builders add new rip-off apps on a regular basis, and it’s not possible to catch all of them earlier than somebody will get duped. If an app unexpectedly fees you, report suspicious exercise Apple and depart a overview warning others the app is a rip-off.

Backside line: An unfamiliar app ought to all the time be approached with warning. When doubtful, don’t put them in your system—and maintain your finger (or Face ID) away from any typical in-app buy approval strategies, too.

Brendan up to date this piece on Feb. 11, 2021 with new details about the most recent iOS scams. We additionally modified the header picture.





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