With the return of “Report a Problem” to the App Store, Apple invites the public to fight against fraud – TechCrunch


Apple is upgrading its App Store by returning the link “Report a problem” to the App Store product pages on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices. The link gives users an easy way to report issues they are having with an app, such as if it contains offensive or illegal content, or if it is trying to scam consumers for their money. Apple had removed the user-friendly “Report a Problem” button from the App Store years ago, perhaps to its detriment. New reports suggested that many of the best apps are scams that cost consumers millions and that Apple has even been asked by Congress about the situation.

The button’s return was spotted earlier this week, but Apple didn’t officially announce it until today.

The company says the new feature is currently available in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and will find its way to other markets over time. (Technically, however, the feature isn’t new – a button like this was a key feature in the early days of the App Store.)

Example of old App Store with Report a Problem button. Image credits: Dummies.com Opens in a new window)

The button only appears on apps that consumers have installed.

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

Image credits: App Store screenshot, October 2021

Apple App Review, Discovery Fraud and Live Moderation, and Financial Fraud teams will investigate these reported issues for signs of fraud, manipulation, abuse, and other violations of App review guidelines. Store, Apple said. They will then contact the developers to resolve any issues they discover. However, there is no mention of any form of immediate financial assistance available to consumers. Consumers should always request refunds from this page as a separate process.

App Store scams have become more obvious, blatant, and in many cases more profitable since Apple switched to the subscription model years ago. Almost immediately, the bad actors took advantage of the built-in tools to entice consumers to subscribe, leading Apple to release new guidelines aimed at catching developers trying to use “dark models” or other measures. misleading in their subscription applications.

One developer, in particular, Kosta Eleftheriou – who has filed a lawsuit against Apple for lost revenue to crooks – has made it his mission to highlight some of the worst scams on the app store.

In addition to the scams that impacted his own business, where a scam of his Apple Watch app allegedly scammed millions of consumers, he also uncovered scams that ended up making headlines due to their boldness or disastrous for end users. This included a crypto wallet app that scammed the user of his savings (~ $ 600,000) in bitcoin; a children’s game that makes it contained a hidden online casino; and a VPN application who scammed users for $ 5 million per year.

Eleftheriou tells us that he is now investigating another case of App Store fraud, which he expects to publish soon, where a developer with millions of app downloads has garnered tens of millions in revenue.

Eleftheriou’s work has raised questions about how much Apple is investing in the fight against fraud in the App Store. After all, if a single developer can discover scam after scam in their spare time, why the most valuable in the world business?

In fact, Eleftheriou even built a system to help him dig up scams more easily. Called “Bunco Squad,” its tool offers a dashboard that displays an app’s metrics, such as ratings, reviews, downloads, and revenue, among others, and assigns the app a trust score. Since many scammers buy bogus ratings, it’s pretty straightforward to locate potential scams by comparing an app’s overall rating to a rating calculated solely from written reviews.

Eleftheriou tried to publish “Bunco Squad” on the App Store, where it was – unsurprisingly – rejected. Apple told him that some of the information offered by the app may be inaccurate, he said.

Problems with fraud in the App Store have even made their way to Congress this year.

Apple was asked about its apparent inability to curb App Store crooks during a Senate antitrust hearing in April. The company, in part, has justified the commissions it charges developers because of the work it does to maintain a safe and reliable app marketplace, which includes fighting fraud on behalf of developers. Senators wanted to know why, so we had to rely on journalists and other “open source reporting” (a comment probably referring to public efforts, like those of Eleftheriou), to uncover such app scams. Store.

Apple’s response at the time was that tackling security and fraud was a cat-and-mouse game, and it was striving to improve.

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

The company also released some sort of statement in its announcement about the change to the App Store which is probably intended to crush rumors that it is not working hard enough to fight fraud because the revenue from fraudulent apps contributes to the profits of the App Store.

“Problematic apps diminish the App Store experience for users and developers, and we’re constantly developing techniques to identify even more types of problematic content to remove. If we suspect that a developer has engaged in deliberate manipulation, fraud or abuse, we will notify them and take action, ”the company said, adding that problematic apps could be removed and their developers could 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 added.


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