The holiday season should be a fun and exciting time for everyone – not a period of the year where people have to worry about identity theft, stolen credit cards and other types of cyber crimes. Unfortunately, these types of things are very much on the rise and thanks to the prevalence of devices like smartphones, they could get worse before they get better.
If you want to avoid fakes, schemes and scams this holiday season, there are a number of important steps that you can start taking today to stay protected.
App-Based Phishing Attempts
One unfortunately common way that people are scammed around the holidays takes the form of app-based phishing schemes. Two in three retailers actually do NOT have an iOS or Android application according to industry experts, but that doesn’t stop scammers from creating fake apps with “too good to be true” offers anyway. These apps ask people for credit card numbers and other personal information, similar to the way a fake email might do the same.
Because of the way mobile operating systems are designed, the damage could actually be much more severe than traditional identity theft. Apps could ask for access to your photos or contacts, compromising your friends and family members as well.
Best Practices to Stay Protected
While Apple in particular announced that it was making an effort to shut down these fake shopping apps, there are still a number of key steps you can take yourself to remain protected. Always go to a retailer’s official website to see if an official app exists in the first place. Likewise, read App Store reviews – if something is a scam in hiding, there are usually people who are ready to warn you if you’re willing to listen.
Another clear way to identify a fake app from a real one is to be on the lookout for any misspellings or other typos. This is a dead giveaway that the app you’ve just downloaded may not be the genuine article. As a general rule of thumb, remember: any step that you would take to protect yourself from a fake phishing email will also serve you well when it comes to navigating the rough waters of a mobile app store.
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