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  • Dean Smith

For Your Protection: Be Wary of Fraudulent Mobile Applications on your Smartphone

In this day and age, we do virtually EVERYTHING on our smartphones. We pay our bills, we mobile deposit our paychecks, we shop online, we even pay for our purchases in store utilizing our phones. An abundance of data is stored and accessible right at our fingertips; but we never stop to think that the information we are typing in to our smartphones could ever become compromised. Our smartphones are protected. They’re not as vulnerable as our computers, right? Wrong.

According to an article on by Eugene Bekker, fraudsters are taking advantage of the fact that most of us have shifted to utilizing mobile services and apps across the Apple, BlackBerry, Amazon, Android and Windows markets, especially mobile banking.

“Fraudsters create fake smartphone apps that mimic big-name companies, like financial institutions and retailers, to capture personal information, bank account numbers or even install harmful software on your device,” says Bekker. “Other criminals trick victims into using their apps by promising extreme discounts or exclusive deals that seem too good to be true.”

Some of the most detrimental fraudulent applications are geared toward those of us using mobile banking. These clones put your smartphone/device, financial information, and ultimately your identity at risk. How do they do it? Some of the fraudulent smartphone applications utilize “phishing attacks.” You log in to the mobile application thinking it belongs to your bank, and you are prompted to provide personal information such as your social security number, account and card numbers, dates of birth, addresses, etc. You just gave them all of your personal information on a silver platter without ever realizing you were compromising yourself.

Others use the fraudulent applications to download harmful “malware” onto your device once the app is installed. Malware has the ability to record your keystrokes, ultimately compromising login credentials to any and ALL sites/apps you log in to, accounts numbers, etc. This fake app does not necessarily mean its disguising itself as a mobile banking site. It could be a fake social app, and if you use the same username and passwords for most of your login credentials, then hackers have just gained the ability to log in to all of your social media accounts, bank accounts, etc.

Here’s a list of suggestions to protect yourself, your smartphone, and your identity when browsing your mobile app market:

  1. Verify the publisher. Pay attention to publisher names that closely match legitimate ones. Fraudsters will use big company names, but change them slightly hoping you won’t notice; for example, vs Overstock Inc.

  2. Read the reviews and comments. Before downloading an app, check for reviews and comments. Fake apps will almost always have little to none.

  3. Check for app publish dates. Fraudulent apps will typically list publish dates that are more recent. Legitimate apps will certainly not have recent publish dates, and will more often indicated that it was last “updated on” a certain date.

  4. Stay away from the “too good to be true” apps. Apps that promise extreme discounts and deals that are so far off from similar apps are most likely fake.

  5. Go to the company’s official website. When in doubt, a company’s official website will always direct you to their legitimate mobile app.

Safe and happy app hunting!

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