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How To Identify Fake Apps in the Google Play Store

The first thing we do when we purchase a new phone is install all kinds of apps, from games and media to wallpapers and utilities. When we do, so many of us just assume all apps are secure – after all, they’re on the Play Store. However, it is not uncommon for Google’s Play Store to be in the news occasionally for hosting fake and malicious apps. For that reason, we should be cautious about every app that we install on our phone to ensure that it does not land us in the crosshairs of hackers and scammers. Below you will find some simple tips on how to identify fake apps in the Google Play Store.

Tips on identifying fake Android apps:
  1. Always do some research on the developer of the app you plan to install. In the Play Store, you can find the developer’s name right below the app name. Search the developer on Google – a genuine developer likely has a website and other verifiable details on the net.
  2. Check out the developer’s profile. Apps with the “Editor’s Choice” or “Top Developer” tags are more than likely to be genuine legitimate apps.
  3. When installing an app, it is imperative to read all app permissions carefully – should comply with its functions/features. For example, a flashlight app requesting permission to access SMS, call logs, media files, etc., is a red flag.
  4. It is important to note that not all apps in the play store are in fact “apps”; rather, they just redirect to mobile websites. The point of this is to get you to open and click their ads and other links that eventually profit the developer. Developers that create genuine apps are typically useful to the user and not to the mobile websites that try to scam you into clicking on ads or other links.
  5. Always pay attention to user ratings and reviews prior to downloading an app. In most cases, if an app is fake or malicious, you’ll likely come across reviews that say so. However, be cautious of overly exaggerated reviews that praise the app.

From time to time, the Google Play Store can contain risky apps. However, even with this minimal risk, it is still much safer than unofficial and third-party app stores. Whatever your reason for downloading an app from a third-party source, be aware that you are risking your privacy and security by doing so – it’s harder to identify fake or malicious apps. A simple way to eliminate these risks is to download a mobile security app. These can give you real-time updates, block fake and malicious apps from getting installed on your device, and block infections spread via compromised websites.