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App Scams Targeting Teens

by Jeremy Johnson | Sep 16, 2019 7:18:44 AM

As a parent, smart devices and phones can be a stressor. I
have tried to set up as many parental controls as possible for my children, but
unfortunately, it seems nothing is fail proof. Some apps are easy to judge, but
any that allow kids to connect with friends or family usually also allows others
(maybe bad guys) to find their way in.

The Better Business Bureau often hears of people who have
fallen victim to scammers infiltrating social media apps. This is a key way for
con artists and criminals to get kid's personal information or photos without no
one the wiser.  Cyber security company,
Tenable, released a report outlining scams they discovered on some apps most
popular with teens.

In one type of scam, con artists steal videos of women in
bikinis from Snapchat and Instagram. The scammers then direct viewers to a
Snapchat account allegedly containing nude photos. After users were lured to
that Snapchat account, scammers would then lead users to adult dating sites. The
scammers make money when users click on these sites or become a paid user. A
spokesman for Snapchat said it has shut down the accounts and pointed to the
company's rules against pornography and illegal activities. 

Other scams impersonate TikTok influencers claiming to be a
fan account or a backup account for a popular TikTok user. That allows scammers
to get user information. The scammers turn around and sell that information as
followers and likes for other social media sites including Facebook, Instagram,
and YouTube.

These examples illustrate how important it is to know what
information your child is putting on any social sites and how it can be used.
Here are some suggestions the Better Business Bureau recommends for protecting
your child’s information before choosing and using apps. 

Take time before you download an app. It's easy to hit
"Install" and accept the terms without thinking. Take time to
research the app you're downloading BEFORE giving access to your devices. Read
reviews and do a Google search of the app or the developer's name. Scammers use
apps to collect information, swindle consumers into re-occurring fees, and

Pay attention to what permissions you are giving when
downloading an app. Many apps will ask for access to certain features of the
device upon startup. (Camera, phone, contact list, etc.) Ask yourself,
"Why does this app need that access?" Some of the time, in some
situations, the permissions make sense, but not always.

Always read the fine print: Many apps have a link to terms
and conditions and the privacy policy. Read those thoroughly to know how your
information will be used or stored. We give a lot of personal information to
apps these days! Our names, birthdays, fingerprints, and face scans. It is
important to know where that information is being sent if it's being stored,
and if so, how and why.

For more tips on protecting yourself when downloading go to bbb.org. Or if you have fallen victim to con artists you can report your experience on bbb.org/scamtracker to warn others.

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