Apple has recently released statistics on the number of fraudulent and untrustworthy transactions that have passed through the Apple App Store in 2021. In combination, they have stopped nearly $1.5 billion from getting into the hands of fraudsters who prey on unsuspecting users.
Fraudulent apps are designed to steal your money and personal data. They are often disguised as legitimate apps or services, but the truth is that they can hide behind a variety of different names.
The most common types of fraudulent transactions include:
- Scams that claim to give you free gift cards for completing surveys or downloading an app.
- Fake lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests require you to pay fees before claiming your prize.
- Apps that charge you for premium features without providing any value in return.
- Apps that ask for access to sensitive personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information.
In their report published on June 1, 2022, Apple has presented some striking numbers.
- The App Store prevented over 1.6 million potentially risky and untrustworthy apps as well as updates from making users lose their hard-earned money.
- They have rejected tens of thousands of apps that contained undocumented or hidden features.
- More than 157,000 spam, copycat, and misleading apps were rejected from the App Store in 2021.
- Over 343,000 apps were rejected on the grounds of privacy violations.
- The App Store also prevented over 3.3 million stolen credit cards from making any purchases on the marketplace.
Apart from that, the App Store also permanently banned close to 600,000 accounts from transacting on their platform, they also mentioned the deactivation of 170 million fraudulent customer accounts. Apple also reports that it banned 118 million+ attempted fraud account creations and terminated 802,000+ fraud developer accounts.
Stopping Fraudulent Apps and Transactions in their Tracks
Apple also mentions that they have access to historical data starting at the inception of the App Store. This allows them to better automate and apply manual tools which they process to weed out-attempted fraud.
Using tools that leverage machine learning, the App Store can quickly and reliably extract vast amounts of data which they check against new apps and app updates. This allows the platform to learn about an app’s potential violations and issues before they can do any harm.
Apple maintains, however, that it is the human review process that acts as the critical line of defense. According to the report, Apple has a policy where each submitted app must go through a human app review process to ensure that the guidelines are followed and all regulations regarding privacy, spam, and security are adhered to.
Ways Apps and Developers Defraud People
Three common ways exist in which apps and developers usually defraud people.
- Third-party billing – This is the most common way fraudulent apps steal from users. The app will display ads and then charge the user’s credit card for them. In some cases, it may even charge for subscriptions that you did not intend to subscribe to.
- In-app purchases – These are purchases made inside an app or game that are not required for gameplay but are used to customize your experience or progress through a level or mission faster. These purchases can be made with real money or virtual currencies that can be purchased with real money (such as “coins” or “credits”).
- Malware downloads – This type of fraud involves downloading an app that appears legitimate, but actually contains malware designed to steal information from your device or install viruses onto it without your knowledge.