How To Spot A Fake Shopping App

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(CBSDFW.COM) – Trying to avoid the rush at malls by shopping on apps?

Be aware that there are hundreds of fake apps floating around in app stores ahead of the holiday.

More and more apps are getting past app reviewers at both Google and Apple stores says Dr. Kevin Hamlen, associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas in Dallas.

“You enter a credit card number in the app to buy something, your credit card number gets stolen,” Hamlen told CBS 11.

He says a lot of consumers believe that anything in the app store is probably trustworthy, but that may not be necessarily true.

Stealing your credit card number or identity is not the only thing scammers are doing. Sometimes they can take over your phone by planting a malware in these apps.

Recently, researchers at an internet security firm ESET found 1.5 million users downloaded several versions of fake photo editing app called Prisma from Google Play. Some with dangerous software that could damage the device.

These fake apps are sometimes hard to find but there are some clues says Mark Ackerman of CNET.

Ackerman said the first line of defense is to check who published the app.

He shows us a real and fake Overstock app – which has since been taken down.

“If I go to the Overstock app, the real one, it says it’s by Overstock.com. One of the fake ones that we’re talking about, it’s by Overstock.inc,” Ackerman said.

His next test is to check the number of reviews and ratings.

“I see there’s a lot of ratings and reviews for this Overstock app — lifetime there’s over 10,000 of them and it got an average of four stars. To me, that’s a sign that this is the legitimate app from the legitimate company,” Ackerman said.

The fake app didn’t have any ratings or reviews and was only published a few days ago.

He also says to check the app description and instructions.

“If there are a lot of typos and mistakes and it doesn’t seem like they were written by someone whose first language is English, that’s a big red flag right there,” Ackerman said.

Another safeguard is to go directly to the store’s website. It’s a much safer way to download the legitimate app.

Apple has removed hundreds of fake apps, but new one’s are being created every day. So downloading any app requires a closer look in this age of high-tech scams

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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