6 Ways to Spot an iPhone App Scam

Istanbul, Turkey - March 20, 2016: Woman looking on social media applications on a brand new white Apple iPhone 6s, which is designed and developed by Apple inc. and was released on September 9, 2015.If you’re planning on shopping via your favorite retailer’s smartphone app this holiday season, be sure you’re not setting yourself up for fraud.

Fraudulent app developers are flooding Apple and Android app stores with fake shopping apps just in time for the busy holiday shopping season. Fake apps have posed as legitimate retailers for luxury brands like Moncler, Celine, and Salvatore Ferragamo, the NY Post reports.

It’s hard for experts to tell exactly how many fake apps are present in app stores because they are constantly launching and shutting down, says Ashish Toshniwal, CEO of Y Media Labs, a Silicon Valley-based product design company that has developed apps for big brands such as The North Face, Home Depot, and L’Oreal.

Fake retail apps have been a problem for years, says Toshniwal, but “it gets pretty bad over the holiday season.” Two in three retailers don’t have an iOS or Android app, which has given scammers the opportunity to create fake apps tied to legitimate retailers in hopes of luring in unsuspecting customers.

Making matters more difficult, Apple’s move in September to introduce search ads into its App Store allows developers to buy search terms in order to rank higher when you look for certain words or phrases. That means you might see fakes apps listed ahead of or right next to real apps developed by the brand.

We spoke to industry experts about what you should look for so you don’t get duped by a fake app this holiday season.

Here are 6 signs that a retail app is fake:

You’re not shopping through a trusted app store.

You should only download apps from the official Apple App Store, whether that’s online or on your phone. Some developers may create third-party marketplaces that look very similar to the online App Store, so be sure to check the address bar to avoid those.

If you have any doubts about an app’s legitimacy, go directly to the retailer’s website and see if they promote the app. If they do have an app, they will direct you to the correct source.

The reviews are poor.

If the app you’re considering seems questionable, there is a good chance someone who downloaded it before you might have commented about it. If it’s ripping people off, then someone would have likely noted that in a review.

“Don’t be the first to try a retail app out,” says Charlie Fairchild, the lead software engineer at WillowTree, a mobile app development company whose list of clients include PepsiCo, AOL, and Time Warner.

There are tons of typos.

Typos can be a dead giveaway that you’re dealing with an app that is not being promoted by a legitimate company.

Take for example, Footlocke Sports Co. Ltd., a fake retailer apparently trying to mimic retailers Foot Locker Retail Inc. or Overstock.com Inc. Generally, the description of fake apps will include typos or incorrect information about the company. So if you see an app for a large brand that seems like a one-off, it could be a red flag.

Also, take a look at screenshots before you download the app (most apps have to include screenshots in the app store). If the screenshots are fuzzy or look low quality, steer clear.

The company only has one app.

The app you’re considering will be connected to a developer’s page where you’ll be able to see all of the apps that company or individual currently has in the marketplace.

Generally speaking, the more apps the company has, the higher chance it’s legitimate. Fakes are more of a problem for brands that don’t have much of an app presence. Dillards, for example, doesn’t have a retail app, but it is a big brand. So it may be more susceptible to fraudsters who would abuse that brand.

“Fake companies tend to not release a lot of apps under the same name because of the chances of them getting shut down,” Toshniwal says.

While there are many brands that have developed only one app, some large companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, develop many apps for all of the company’s brands. Because the company has made that investment, they are more likely to have a team that monitors activity in the marketplace and flags fake accounts trying to misuse the brand.

They ask for too much information.

Some apps go even further than stealing your credit card information; they may also ask for permissions to access your photos, contacts, location, or social media profiles as well.

For a simple retail shopping app, there is generally no need for an app to access your contacts or images in order for you to buy something from them. If you absentmindedly agree to a permission without reading the request, you may grant access to information or files that could be harmful to you or others you are connected to.

There are lots of annoying pop-ups.

Lastly, stay vigilant for any sketchy activity when you’re using the application. That could mean an unusual amount of ads or pop-up forms, unusually priced items, a lack of contact information, or anything else that seems off.
Don’t chance your sensitive information this holiday season. If you think you’ve downloaded a fake app, delete it immediately, and report it to Apple or Google so it can be removed.


The post 6 Ways to Spot an iPhone App Scam appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

7 Free Tools to Help Calm the Back-to-School Chaos


Whether you’re working or a stay-at-home parent, back-to-school season can get rough. Between strict schedules, meal planning, homework, and maybe even extracurriculars, life just gets a bit chaotic.

Luckily, technology can make things a bit easier on parents. With all the apps available today, there are loads of great free tools that can help you handle everything from schedules to meal planning. Here are seven of the best free — and really cheap — tools to try this back-to-school season.

1. Google Calendar

While there are plenty of great calendar apps on the market, Google’s still takes the cake. Available for iOS and Android, the interface is great on just about any screen. It lets you choose different views, from one month to a daily agenda, or a custom view like two or three weeks. Plus, you can easily share Google Calendars with a spouse or your older kids, so that everyone syncs up seamlessly.

One of the best things about Google Calendars, though, is the ability to set up multiple calendars. Use one for work events, one for personal appointments and one for the kids’ school schedule. You could even keep a separate calendar for each member of the family. Each calendar will be color-coded, so you can get an at-a-glance idea of what’s coming in any given week.

Two other great Google Calendar features: reminders and repeating events. With reminders, you can set up alerts on your phone for repeating or one-off events. You can even make sure Google keeps reminding you until you check the reminder as complete, so you don’t accidentally blow off making that important appointment. And with repeating events, you can quickly add regular events to your calendar.

2. Google Keep

Again, there are multiple note-taking apps on the market, but Google Keep is definitely worth checking out. This simple app lets you take notes or create to-do lists that look like sticky notes. You can organize them by category, and you can even color-code the notes to match your calendar colors.

The best thing about Keep is that you can share notes with others. You can, for instance, keep a running grocery list in a Keep note that you share with your spouse. That way whoever has time to stop by the store on a given weeknight has the list ready to go.

3. Cozi

Cozi combines some of the functionality of Google Keep and Google Calendar. It comes in a free and paid version. The free version runs ads. The paid version comes with additional features, including a birthday calendar and contact list.

If you want to keep just a single shared family calendar, Cozi is a great option. Like Google Calendar, it lets you share your calendar with a spouse or multiple family members. The calendar app is slightly less user-friendly than Google’s — but only slightly. It does include the additional feature of a meal planner, which is great for busy parents. Plus, Cozi lets you keep categorized shopping and to-do lists, making it a good all-around organization app.

4. Pepperplate

This meal-planning app can take some time to set up because you’ll need to build or import your own recipes. But you can import recipes from a web link, making it an easy option for organizing all those Pinterest recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Once you get your recipes into your recipe box, you can tell the app which recipes you’re shopping for this week. Then, it’ll automatically generate a shopping list to use at the grocery store.

As far as meal-planning apps go, this one has great reviews. It doesn’t do the planning for you, but it’s a good option if you already have a go-to bank of recipes you use on busy weeknights.

5. Asana

This free to-do app is great for busy parents who want to track both work and home tasks. As with many of the apps featured here, you can share this one with a spouse or older kids. Asana lets you assign tasks by person and give tasks a due date. You can also organize tasks by category or project, making it easy to work on the most important projects first.

One of Asana’s biggest strengths is ease-of-use in a mobile format, though you can also access it by desktop. Plus, it allows you to sort your to-do list in a variety of ways, from tasks by due date to tasks by assignee to tasks by project.

6. Chore Monster

Want to get your kids doing more chores this school year? Try Chore Monster. This easy-to-use app lets you as the parent assign and create point values for various chores. You can have certain chores your kids must do, and certain chores they can choose to do. When the child completes the chore, you check it off, and they earn points.

What do they do with all those points? It’s up to you! Add rewards that kids can purchase with their points. Rewards could be physical or monetary, or you could just give kids extra screen time. The cool thing is that you can assign some rewards with a low-point value, so kids can pick them up often. But you can also help kids grasp the idea of saving by giving them a few high-point-value options, like a big weekend camping trip or an expensive new toy.

7. Evernote

This app has been around a while, and it’s a classic. Many moms swear by it, and it does have a bunch of functions to try. You might use it for keeping track of online articles you want to read while waiting in the school pickup line. Or you can use it to get rid of all that paper-based clutter kids bring home from school.

With Evernote, you can store scans or photos of paper items, so you can easily upload the school calendar and menu to an online format. You could also use Evernote to store scans of special projects or papers your kids bring home, so that you’ll hang on to them without having to find a place for thousands of pieces of paper every single school week.

Image: Erik Khalitov

The post 7 Free Tools to Help Calm the Back-to-School Chaos appeared first on Credit.com.