BBB warns consumers of fake shopping apps circulating in well-known app stores

SAN ANTONIO— For those who prefer the convenience of shopping from a computer or a mobile app, Better Business Bureau is warning of fake shopping apps. This holiday season, reports have surfaced that fake shopping apps for well-known luxury brands have popped up on app stores like Apple and Google. So far, reports indicate that the apps are out to steal money, along with financial and personal information.

A lot of retailers use individual smartphone applications to allow customers to browse their products and order right from their smartphone or tablet, some even offer coupons or exclusive deals in the app. 

Unfortunately, scammers are looking to cash in on that. Some have created copycat apps that look similar to the real one. Others have created apps for brands that don't have a real app, but they are using the brand's name and logos. This is particularly true for luxury or designer brands.

When downloading apps to your electronic devices, BBB offers the following advice:

  • Do your research before downloading. If you're looking to shop with a particular brand, go to the company's official website to make sure the retailer has an app. There will likely be information about the app there with a link to where you can download it on your device.
  • Read the reviews. Read the reviews other people have left on apps in the app store before you download. If there are a lot of one star reviews, look closer. If there are no reviews at all, that's a red flag.
  • Look out for poor grammar and typos. Most fake apps are developed with little or no quality control. Look for poor grammar, typos, and strange sentences or phrases within the app title, description, or instructions.
  • Be wary if the app asks for too much information. When downloading an app, it usually asks for permission to access certain parts of your device. If a shopping app is asking to access your contacts list, your photos or your location, that's a red flag. If the app asks for personal information to complete an order, like date of birth or Social Security number, delete it.

If you have downloaded a fake app, delete it as soon as possible and:

  • Take steps to protect your information. If you suspect you bought something from a fake app, call customer service from the company you were trying to order from. See if they have a record of your order. If they don't, call your credit card company and reverse the charges on the purchase as soon as possible. If you put your personal information in the app, be sure to monitor your credit report carefully and watch for any unauthorized charges on your accounts.
  • Report it. File a report with the app store so that if it is fake, they can take it down. You can also report it to BBB Scam Tracker.