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shutterstock_604750013Almost everyone is guilty of passively downloading a new app for their mobile device. And why not? Apps are great. But consumers should recognize that there are risks in the marketplace.

A woman from California used her debit card to buy a slot machine game app for her smartphone. It soon came to her attention that she had lost more than $5,000 to the sketchy app. Certain applications are designed for the sole purpose of stealing personal information. Therefore, it is extremely important to be cautious and alert to the applications we download onto our phones.

A few tips to better enjoy your apps:

  • Download apps from a trusted source. For Andriod users and iPhone users that means Google Play or the Apple App Store, respectively. Consumers can also download directly from the app’s official website, if one exists. Those downloaded from external websites have a higher chance of containing malicious software.
  • Keep your operating system up-to-date. Be sure you’re updating to the newest versions of apps you currently have installed on your phone. Older versions of operating systems or apps are more vulnerable to problems.
  • Be cautious of clone apps. Scammers strategically design apps to look like another popular app. For example, some consumers may download an app that is designed to look like a bank’s mobile banking app.
  • Research the app before downloading or purchasing it. Take the time to look at reviews, complaints and warnings on forums and websites. If the majority of reviews are negative, don’t download it.
  • Delete apps you don’t use anymore, especially if the app has permissions to use other features of your phone. Today’s smartphones are very advanced, but consumers shouldn’t assume their phone is 100 percent safe from a virus. Check out our blog on app permissions and privacy for more information.

If you have additional questions, contact the  by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

 

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