How to differentiate between authentic and scam applications?



When you think of apps, you automatically consider all the benefits they provide us with. Between keeping in touch with friends, hailing cabs, and tracking health, the various apps out there offer a plethora of beneficial services.

According to data collected by Earth Web, a whopping 111 billion USD has been generated in revenue in 2020 alone by the app industry! This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that over 80 percent of smartphone time is attributed to app usage.

Yet, every good thing in the world comes with a dark counterpart. For starters, approximately 3700 news apps are added to Google Play Store alone every day. But, not all of them are safe to use.

What are scam apps, you may wonder? Well, either these apps mimic a known app’s services and features to confuse users, or they promise an enticing proposition. But, when you do download the app, either your phone is hacked, or your data is stolen!

There are various scam apps out there that mask themselves in the cloak of authenticity and familiarity. As per Statista, the Ecommerce niche was the most affected by scam apps, followed closely by the gaming sector.

As a user, how can you ensure that you don’t fall into the costly spiral of scam apps? Don’t worry! We are here to help you learn how to differentiate between authentic and scam apps. Whenever you are downloading a new app, make a point of taking the following steps.

  1. Check the app icon for discrepancies

One common thing in most scam apps is that they try to fool users into thinking that they are a legitimate popular app. For starters, you might be searching for the social networking app of AirG’s spam-free service, and you might find a clone of it online that has you convinced that you are downloading the right app.

To remain safe, begin by analyzing the icon of the app. Regardless of how good the designer mimics the icon, there have to be subtle inconsistencies – enough for the icon to not have to go through a copyright claim.

Therefore, the first way to differentiate between an authentic and fake app is to see its icon closely and match it with the real one. This will come in handy when you download another app of the same parent brand.

  1. Search the developer’s name

Let’s say you are downloading an app that is new in the market. You can’t really use step one to verify its authenticity here, right? If so, do a deep search of the developer mentioned in the app description.

If the app is impersonating a famous developer who is known for creating quality apps, you will notice slight problems in the spelling of the name, again as a loophole for avoiding lawsuits about identity theft.

In case you are planning on putting your trust in a new developer; still, research will help you track down the individual and see if they really exist. If you didn’t find any substantial information confirming their identity as an app developer, we would suggest you (virtually) run in the opposite direction.

  1. Consider the number of downloads

App experts have come up with a golden rule regarding differentiating good (and real) apps from the bad ones – the number of downloads. Naturally, something that is effective and beneficial is likely to be downloaded by the masses, right?

So, if an app has less than 5,000 downloads, then it is a red flag. A low download count could mean two things. Either, it may be listed in the wrong category, leading to low visibility. Or, it is a scam app.

Also, if you are downloading a popular app that you have heard everyone using, a low download count is impossible.

So, this method is ideal for filtering out suspicious apps in such cases. And even in the case of new apps, it is better to see if the download count increases than to be the first mover in an unknown world.  

  1. Read the reviews on the app store

We know what you are thinking – app reviews can be faked. They definitely can! And scam apps will always have a lot of raving reviews on their app store page. This is their way of convincing users that the app is excellent.

If an app only has five-star reviews, know that there is a chance that the reviews are fake. The same is true if each review has the same narrative, give or take a few points.

While you are at it, do a quick search on the search engine and read organic reviews as well. If an app is a scam, a little digging will be enough to unearth legitimate claims about how the app is a fraud!

  1. Be wary of discounts!

Who doesn’t love a good discount? But, when it comes to apps, there is always a reason for such promotions. While certain discounts may be to initiate a trial, others are just too grand to be true.

For example, if a given fitness app claims that it will help you lose a lot of weight without working out at a small subscription fee price, the chances are that it is a fake app. After all, if something is not scientifically possible, there is no way an app can do it for you, right?

On the other end of the spectrum, you will find apps that promise you access to features that usually the popular apps charge a premium price for. But, here, the app only demands a significantly lesser price. Again, such cost-effectiveness means that there is an underlying issue with the app. It might be earning through selling your data instead, so beware!

 Download with caution!

Be cautious of the dark side of the app world. Regardless of how popular a given app is, be careful when downloading it. You never know if the app in front of you is a clone or an authentic one. A little research and analysis will be enough to verify its authenticity.

Do the needful before proceeding. Good luck!

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