Steer clear of fake shopping apps this Cyber Monday

Fraudsters are after your data

Cyber monday shopping sale

With what's become known as Cyber Monday around the corner, many shoppers are planning a splurge.

And for the more tech-savvy amongst us, one of the quickest and simplest ways to shop is via a retailer's own smartphone app.

However, security experts are warning that not all of these apps are what they seem. Earlier this month, the New York Times and New York Post discovered hundreds of counterfeit shopping apps in Apple's App Store, and similar fakes are also to be found in Google's Play store.

They include apps purporting to be from retailers including Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and

And when users download the apps and install them, the consequences can be serious. Sometimes, they do no more than create pop-up ads. Some, though, contain malware that can steal credit card and banking information, while others lock the user's phone until a ransom is paid.

Some even persuade users to sign into their social media accounts so the hackers can gain access to that as well.

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Apple recently attempted to purge its app store, removing hundreds of fake apps. However, according to the US' Better Business Bureau, new ones are popping up all the time.

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"These apps appear to be legitimate retail store apps, but they are able to fool you; especially when companies don't already have an existing app through Apple's app store," it says.

"These counterfeiters camouflage themselves as the real thing, and while some of these apps appear to be relatively harmless and more of a pop-up junk app, others can take over and really cause damage."

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So how can you be sure that a shopping app is the real thing?

Fake apps will have a publisher with a name very similar to the real thing - so it's hard to be sure from this alone. But a fake app will have a recent publication date, while the real thing is likely to have been around for a while.

Check for poor spelling in the title or description - it's a common give-away. And read reviews in the app store: a real app is likely to have plenty, while a fake may have none at all.

If in doubt, visit the store's own website in your browser and look for a button that reads 'Get our app'. This will take you to the App Store or Google Play store where you can download the genuine article.

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