How can I spot a fake app?

Today, apps are everywhere. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet probably has many apps installed for everything from games and entertainment to shopping and productivity.

However, with millions being spent on apps every day, there’s a growing threat of counterfeit phone apps which are not always easy to spot. But there are steps you can take to make sure what you are downloading is legitimate and to ensure you stay safe.


But firstly… what’s the point of fake apps?

Legitimate apps are a lucrative business for brands. In 2016, the US spent 900 billion hours using apps and spent $89 billion in doing so. There is a real motive here for criminals to produce copy-cat or fake apps to try to convince you to spend your money with them. Instead of getting what you paid for, you would be served with malware, inundated with ads or simply receive a poor quality app.


So how can I know my app is real?
  1. Who developed the app?

We recommend checking who developed the app. When you are surfing the app store, on Android or iOS, under its name will show the name of the developer. Many apps will actually use the brand’s name as the developer, so if you spot a name which does not look right – a quick internet search will tell you if it is legitimate. Otherwise, other good indicators are that Android credits developers with a blue diamond icon, while high-profile apps on iOS will have their own background. These are not full-proof but point towards authenticity.

  1. Check out the reviews

Checking out the reviews of apps is a useful way to tell if the app is real or not. Watch out for any which are obviously fake or for lots of low ratings. Likewise, if a reviewer has highlighted that they have been experiencing problems with malware since downloading the app, then we advise you to stay away.

  1. Is the picture correct?

The app’s icon is often the first thing you will notice when you are about to download. However, how often do you actually study the image to make sure it is legitimate? Fraudsters will often produce copycat images for popular apps to trick unsuspecting users to download their fake app. These images will look almost identical to the real one, so if you’re ever unsure, we advise you to check the official website of the brand.

  1. Beware of the discounts and added extras

Fraudsters will often try to convince you to download their fake app by offering attractive discounts on big-name apps, or to make it look like you are getting a lot for your money. Similarly, they might charge a small amount for the app, but promise lots of extras. Very rarely are these from authentic sources.

With millions of apps available, it is not always easy to spot a fake. But by remaining vigilant, and following the tips above, you can avoid falling victim to fraudsters.

Have you got a question you’d like answered? Leave us a comment below.