Fake Apps: How to Spot and Avoid on iPhone & Android

Updated on May 15, 2023
Fake Apps: How to Spot and Avoid on iPhone & Android

In this day and age, smartphones are a part of just about everyone’s daily lives. But you may not realize how important it is to protect your phone from fake apps, as they can cause many security issues.

Fake apps, also known as “malicious apps,” are designed to look like legitimate ones but contain malware or malicious code. They are usually made to look like popular existing apps and can be used to collect personal information or even steal banking details.

Protecting yourself from these types of apps is easier than you think. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of fake apps, how to spot them, and what you can do to avoid them on iPhone and Android devices.

What Are Fake Apps?

Fake apps are digital copies of real applications made by third parties to deceive and secretly steal your data or information. They can pretend to be games, music services, or even banking apps. While it can be difficult to spot a fake app from the outside, there are some tell-tale signs you should look out for when deciding whether an app is legit.

Common Indicators of Fake Apps

Here are some common indicators to look out for:

  • Vague Descriptions

Fake apps often lack detailed descriptions, instead employing generic language or omitting important information.

  • Low ratings/reviews

 Most legitimate apps will have high ratings and many reviews from other users. If the app you’re considering has a low rating or few reviews, this could be a sign that it’s fake.

  • Tech support non-existent

Fake apps rarely have contact information for technical support. If a support option is included with the app, it may lead to dead ends or take the user back to the same page repeatedly instead of providing real solutions for their issue.

  • Suspicious developer name

If the developer name looks made up or is overly generic (e.g., “Mobile Apps”), this should set off alarm bells in your head as these are often markers of scammy apps.

  • Poorly designed images/icons

Legitimate apps will include high-quality images and icons within their listings; if they appear pixelated or low-resolution, this could be a sign that the app is fake or of lower quality than you would expect from professional developers.

  • Spelling errors

If the app has glaring spelling and grammar errors, it may be a sign that the app is fake. It’s also important to note that fake apps often have many ads that can put your device at risk, with information tracking and malicious virus downloads.

By watching for any of these features or combinations, you can reduce your chances of downloading a fake app on both iOS and Android platforms.

Some fake Android apps are:

  • Ultima Keyboard 3D Pro.
  • VideoMixer Editor Pro.
  • NewVision Camera.
  • Wi-Fi Password Unlock.
  • GT Sports Racing Online.
  • Fitness Ultimate 2021.

Popular form of Fake Apps list on iPhone & Android

Here are some popular forms of  fake apps on both iPhone and Android that you should be aware of:

Fake Game Apps

Fake game apps are a prevalent form, usually masquerading as legitimate games. These can range from copycat titles of popular games to totally new ones. Some have even been made to look like official releases from developers and publishers with their own support pages and websites that try to convince people they’re real.

Here are some fake gaming apps on iPhone:

  • Fire-Wall
  • Loot the Castle
Loot the castle
  • Ninja Critical Hit
Ninja Critical Hit
  • Racing Legend 3D
Racing Legend 3D
  • Rope Runner
Rope Runner
  • Run Bridge
Run Bridge
  • Shinning Gun
  • Tony Runs
Tony Runs
  • Wood Sculptor

Fake Shopping Apps

Fake shopping apps also exist often claiming to offer great deals on popular products or services. But these apps usually are only a scam asking users for information or money in exchange for nothing at all.

Fake Banking Apps

These fraudulent banking applications require you to enter sensitive financial information to access their services. Sadly, these types of scams have become increasingly widespread in the last few years and can often fool even experienced users into disclosing private data.

Tips for Finding Legitimate Apps

To make sure you’re downloading a legitimate app, there are some tips that are good to keep in mind before you hit the install button.

Read Reviews and Ratings

This is the easiest tip to follow. Just read what everybody else has written about the app and see if they recommend it or not. The reviews will tell you if it’s real or fake and whether it’s worth downloading or not.

Do Your Research

Do a quick search online on the app store, Google and other websites to see what comments people typically have about the app. This will help you further narrow down whether it’s real or fake and gives more insight into how exactly an app works before you start with it.

Look for Signs of a Fake App

When looking up an app some key factors could be red flags for anything fake. Check for typos as this could be a sign of low-quality work overall. Fake apps have low-quality design that stand out compared to their Play Store counterparts. Certain permissions that are unnecessary such as location or contact access can signify a scam app.

How to Report and Delete a Fake App?

Reporting fake apps when you spot them is always a great idea. Fortunately, it’s easy to delete and report fake apps on Android and fake apps on iphone.

On Android

If you think you’ve identified a fake app on Google Play Store:

  1. Go to the app’s page in Google Play Store
  2. Scroll down and tap “Flag as inappropriate”
  3. Select the relevant reason from the list provided why you think it is a fake app
  4. Provide additional information if you have it
  5. Tap “Submit”

Google will then review your report and act accordingly by removing the app or responding with any further queries about your concerns and suspicions regarding it being a fake or fraudulent application.

identified a fake app on Google Play Store

On iOS (iPhone/iPad)

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open App Store and find the application in question
  2. Scroll down to “Reviews” section and tap “Report a Problem”
  3. Select an option from the drop-down menu that best describes why you are reporting the application as fake or fraudulent
  4. Provide additional information if needed
  5. Tap “Submit”
Open App Store and find the application in question

Apple will then review your report and act accordingly by either querying for more information or removing the application if they believe it is fraudulent or fake.

Best Practices for Avoiding Fake Apps

It’s one thing to spot a fake app, but it’s even better to know the best practices for avoiding them in the first place. Here are some top tips:

  • Not only users’ reviews, but also reviews and awards given by security companies and app review websites.
  • Make sure developer is a legitimate company you’ve heard of before or that you can research easily.
  • Downloading an app outside of an approved store means you’re more likely to download a fake or malicious one, leaving your phone vulnerable to attack.
  • Quality apps are professionally designed with a consistent user interface across all versions and platforms, so be wary if it looks too cluttered, unfinished or unprofessional.
  • If the permissions required for installation seem too intrusive, like access to your text messages or contacts list without need for such access; this is likely a malicious app and should be avoided at all costs!
  • Assess the features. Does the app offer features that are too good to be true? Most likely it’s fake and will not provide any real service.
  • Use a reliable VPN app. Astrill app for iphone/Android is one of the best VPN for accessing geo-restricted content with lots of security features and tools.

Following these best practices is critical in making sure you don’t accidentally download dangerous or deceptive apps that can compromise your data security.

FAQs

You probably have a few questions about fake apps and how to recognize and avoid them. So here’s what you need to know:

Q: What do hidden apps look like on Android?

Hidden apps on Android are those that are invisible and not shown in the app list, meaning they can remain undetected and running in the background. This type of app might slow the device, or serve up ads or malware.

Q: What are unknown apps?

Unknown apps are those that are not installed from the official app store, but instead downloaded from suspicious sources online. These might contain malicious code.

Q: Can a hacker see my apps?

Yes, if you downloaded a malicious app from an unknown source, a hacker could gain access to your phone, its data, and all your installed applications. The best way to protect your phone is to only install trusted applications from official app stores.

Conclusion

Fake apps on iPhone and Android devices come in many forms and have different purposes, making it challenging to spot them. That’s why it’s important to know how to recognize and avoid them. Do your research before downloading any app, and make sure to validate the source of the download. Keep your online security measures active to stay safe from malware, and consider using a VPN to mask your online activity.

Ultimately, being aware of the risk of fake apps is the best way to avoid them. Knowing the signs and being careful with the apps you choose to download can keep your device and data secure and protect you from malicious and scam apps.

About The Author

Bisma Farrukh

Bisma is a seasoned writer passionate about topics like cybersecurity, privacy and data breach issues. She has been working in VPN industry for more than 5 years now and loves to talk about security issues. She loves to explore the books and travel guides in her leisure time.

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