Should You Be Worried About App Store Scams?

An investigative report reveals some unsettling details

App Store
The App Store (M) logo can be seen on the screen of an iPhone.
Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the App Store — including questions about how Apple implemented the store and what effects it might have on the larger digital ecosystem. But the antitrust issues surrounding the Fortnite lawsuit aren’t the only things that might give you pause the next time you make a foray into the App Store. A new investigation from Reed Albergotti and Chris Alcantara at The Washington Post offers an inside look into the ways scammers have found different ways to profit from the App Store lately.

The scamming can take different forms. Some apps claim that they’re from companies like Samsung; others attempt to trick their users into paying for virus protection. Still others use faux reviews to attain a higher position within the App Store. The ways in which scams can be applied here are numerous, and the reach scammers have is alarming. “Of the highest 1,000 grossing apps on the App Store, nearly two percent are scams,” write Albergotti and Alcantara.

One of the issues brought up by the investigation is the difficulty some of Apple’s customers have had in terms of flagging apps for scamming them. The App Store used to offer a feature where users could report an app that seemed sketchy; however, it hasn’t been in place since 2016.

There is some good news from the Post‘s investigation: their work involved flagging 18 apps, and 2/3 of those were removed from the App Store. It’s a good start — but this investigation suggests there’s a lot more work to be done.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.