Verifying the Authenticity of Apps
According to “New Cyber Crimes,” one of the increasing trends in identity theft is the release of information-gathering apps. These apps look to be legitimate. Often times, they mimic other actual apps from banking institutions as well as credit card companies. But what users soon discover is that the app takes the information they enter, and delivers it to an identity thief who then uses it for his own purposes.
While you can always avoid using apps for fear of getting a bad one, the better solution is to verifying the authenticity of apps. Banks, credit card companies, lending institutions, and more recognize that this is a common problem, and they will help you verify the authenticity of their apps if you give them the chance. Here are some steps for making this happen.
Don’t Believe the App Description
The first step is to remember you never believe what the app description says. Of course an identity thief will insist that this app is legitimate. It also doesn’t matter how specific it is, and whether the app says that it’s best suited for a 7 inch tablet. Slick identity thieves know that offering specific details, instructions, and disclaimers tend to make people feel more secure. Instead of being hauled into a false sense of security, treat the description with suspicion.
Contact the Company Directly
When you see an app from a company you know or work with, contact that company to verify that they did indeed publish the app. Do not use the contact information on the app. Another slick trick is to include contact information that routes the user to the identity thief rather than the banker or the credit card company. So if, for instance, you want to download your bank’s financial management app that you found in the marketplace, call your bank directly, and only download it if they confirm that they have placed that app into the marketplace. A phone call is more reliable than an email.
Download from the Business Site Whenever Possible
Whenever possible, download the app from the business site. Many times, the business itself will link to the app profile in the marketplace. But do not download it if you received the link in an email unless the official publisher confirms that they sent you an email. Another common trick of identity thieves is to send a phishing email that includes a link to a site that looks almost identical to the official one.
It may seem like a lot of redundant work to verify the authenticity of an app. However, it’s essential that you do this when you are going to be submitting confidential information such as your Social Security number, birth date, and financial information. Don’t believe the app description. Even if it’s true, you need to verify that information separately. Always contact the company directly. Talking to them on the phone is better than emailing, and whenever possible, download straight from the business’s site. Even if they send you to the marketplace, go through the business link rather than searching through the marketplace.