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Pokémon Go, the new Nintendo app sweeping the world, melds famous fictional creatures with reality to allow users to “catch ‘em all” throughout their daily lives. But with the game’s new mobile dominance and rising popularity, comes real-world dangers for consumers.

Since the app’s release on July 6th, media outlets have been releasing reports of injuries, robberies, privacy concerns, scams, and even a dead body discovery. If you or your children are hunting Pokémon, keep yourself safe with these tips:pokemon-go

  • When loading, the app warns players to pay attention to surroundings, but still not all do. This is how users slip, fall, and run into things, so it’s very important to look up from the phone. The developer, Niantic, set automatic vibration notifications, so when a creature appears, you’ll know with
    out having to constantly stare. The last thing any good Pokémon master wants is to miss a Pikachu because they lost their footing.
  • It’s better not to go hunting by yourself, especially at night. Because the app relies on the phones’ location settings, users have to explore real places to capture unique Pokémon, some of which only come out when it’s dark. Be wary of all strangers at night, even if it seems they’re just catching too.
  • Other features working from the locating software are the gyms and pokéstops. To collect items and battle other users, players must physically walk to designated landmarks, which is a great exercise motivator. But, it’s also encouraging distracted strangers to flock to the same spots, especially when lures are placed to attract Pokémon. So when exploring for pokéstops and gyms, always keep an eye on what is happening around you. These have proven to be near-perfect scenarios for robberies.
  • The game requires players to log in with a Google account or a “Pokémon Trainer Club” sign-on, an online all-access profile, to supply basic profile details. However, Niantic has been criticized recently for a coding error that allows the company full admission into all aspects of your Google account. They could even send emails as you. The company has apologized and said they’re working to fix the mistake, but stay up-to-date on news regarding your privacy while playing.
  • Another danger is the scams that are surfacing. Third-party and other developers have made fake versions of the app, and they look just like the real thing. The only difference is when you download these, you’re also downloading viruses, malware, and other privacy invaders. By looking through your phone’s settings for the app, you can make sure your version only has access to your location, camera, and data, and uninstall if otherwise. And if you’re just looking to start playing the game, make sure you get it from an official website or app store.

In the frantic race to catch them all and control the gyms, it’s important to separate the virtual game from reality and stay safe. To contact Pokémon Go for any questions or for more information, check out the app’s official support page.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 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 is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

 

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