Everyone loves the convenience of payment apps – and scammers do, too.
Scammers are experts at hijacking our favorite conveniences for their schemes, and third-party app scams are no exception. Let’s look at scams that con the victim into downloading a bogus payment app and how to protect yourself.
HOW THESE SCAMS PLAY OUT
Victims of third-party app scams can be tricked into downloading a bogus app through one of these schemes:
- Bogus withdrawal notice. Here, a target receives an email allegedly from a third-party app, like Venmo, claiming a significant withdrawal will soon be made from the target’s account. The email includes a number to call to contest the withdrawal. When the victim calls the number, a scammer impersonating a bank or credit union rep instructs them to download an app to give the “rep” access to their phone. When the victim does so, the scammer empties the victim’s account into their own.
- The look-alike app. Here, a victim unknowingly downloads an app owned by a scammer, believing it’s a popular mobile payment app. Unfortunately, by downloading the app, the victim gives the scammer direct access to their funds and sensitive information.
Keep yourself safe from third-party app scams with these preventive measures:
- Only download apps from trusted sources, like the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
- Before downloading an app, check its reviews and ratings.
- Research the app and its developer or the company behind it. You may be looking at a scammer’s app if there is limited info.
- If an app asks for unnecessary access to sensitive data or features, it might be malicious.
- Regularly update your operating system and app versions.
- Install reputable mobile security apps that can help detect and block suspicious activity.
- Regularly review your app store purchase history and account statements for unauthorized charges.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links or providing sensitive data to unverified contacts.
- Report suspicious apps to the app store and relevant authorities.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TARGETED
If you’ve fallen for a third-party app scam and sent money to a scammer, reach out to the legitimate app as soon as possible. You can chat with most apps on their website for quick service or find a customer service number on their page.