With return of ‘Report a Problem’ on App Store, Apple invites public to help fight fraud

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Apple is making changes to its App Store Returning a “Report a Problem” link On the App Store product page on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices. The link provides an easy way for users to report problems they are having with an app, including whether it contains offensive or illegal content, or whether it was attempting to dupe consumers out of their money. Apple removed the consumer-friendly “Report a Problem” button from the App Store years ago, likely to its detriment. The new report has suggested That many top apps are scams costing consumers millions and this situation has also been questioned by Congress to Apple.

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The return of the button was seen earlier this week, but Apple hasn’t officially announced it until today.

The company says that the new feature is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and will roll out to other markets over time. (Technically, though, this feature isn’t new—a button like this used to be a prominent feature in the early days of the App Store.)

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Example of an older App Store with Report a Problem button. image credit: dummies.com Opens in a new window)

The button appears only on apps that consumers have installed.

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When clicked, consumers will be able to choose from options such as “Report scam or fraud” and “Report abusive, abusive, or illegal content”. reportaproblem.apple.com. They’ll also be able to report problems with free apps that don’t contain in-app purchases.

image credit: App Store Screenshots, October 2021

Apple’s App Review, Discovery Fraud and Live Moderation, and Financial Fraud team will investigate these reported problems for signs of fraud, manipulation, abuse and other violations of the App Store Review Guidelines, Apple says. They will then reach out to developers to address the issues they uncover. However, there is no mention of any immediate financial relief to be given to the consumers. Consumers will still have to request a refund from this page as a separate process.

App Store scams have become more obvious, serious and, in many cases, more profitable since Apple shifted to the subscription model years ago. Almost immediately, bad actors took advantage of built-in tools to trick consumers into subscriptions, prompting Apple to issue new guidelines aimed at developers attempting to use “dark patterns” or other deceptive measures in their subscription apps. Had to do.

One developer, in particular, Costa Eleftherio — which sued Apple over revenue from scammers — is making it their mission. main attraction Some of the worst scams on the App Store.

In addition to the scandals affecting his own business, where a rip-off of his Apple Watch app allegedly defrauded millions of consumers, he also revealed scams that were so bold or devastating to end users. Because of this, he came into the limelight. it contains a The crypto wallet app that got scammed users from their lifetime savings (~$600,000) in bitcoins; a children’s game that really Contains a hidden online casino; and a vpn app who was defrauding users out of $5 million Per year.

Eleftherio tells us that it is now looking into another case of App Store fraud, which it hopes to publish soon, where a developer with millions of app downloads is raking in millions in revenue.

Eleftherio’s work has raised questions about how much Apple has invested in fighting App Store fraud. After all, if even a single developer can uncover scam after scam in his spare time, why not? world’s most valuable company?

In fact, Eleftherio also created a system To help him dig scams more easily. Called “Bunko Squad,” their tool provides a dashboard that displays the app’s metrics — such as ratings, reviews, downloads and revenue, among other things, and assigns the app a trust score. As many scammers buy fake ratings, comparing an app’s overall star rating to a rating calculated from written reviews alone is fairly simple to spot potential scams.

Eleftherio tried to publish “Bunko Squad” to the App Store, where it was – not surprisingly – rejected. Apple told them that some of the information the app offered may be incorrect, he says.

App Store fraud issues have also made their way to Congress this year.

Apple was questioned about its inability to rein in App Store scammers during a Senate antitrust hearing in April. The company justifies, in part, the commission it charges developers because of the work done to maintain a secure and trustworthy app marketplace – including fighting fraud on the part of developers. The senators wanted to know why, then, why we had to rely on journalists and other “open source reporting” (a comment related to public efforts, such as Eleftherios) to uncover such App Store scams.

Apple’s response at the time was that fighting security and fraud was a “cat and mouse” game and that it was working to improve.

With today’s announcement, Apple appears to recognize that effectively fighting fraud may require public input.

The company also issued a statement of its kind Announcement Regarding the App Store change, which is likely to squash the rumble that it’s not working hard enough to fight fraud because scam app revenue contributes to App Store profits.

“Troubleshooting apps impair the App Store experience for users and developers, and we are continually expanding techniques to identify even more types of problematic content for removal. engage in purposeful manipulation, fraud or abuse, we will notify them and take action,” the company said, adding that problematic apps may be removed and their developers may lose their membership in the Apple Developer Program.

“We are deeply committed to protecting users from problematic apps so that the App Store continues to provide an incredible opportunity for all developers,” Apple said.



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