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In-App Purchases: How to Spot Scam Apps


Navigating the world of apps can be riskier than you would expect. Downloading apps not only puts software onto your device that may have security concerns, but many apps can request and retain payment information. WNB Financial is here to help you keep your hard-earned money safe from unexpected costs and predatory apps. So, let’s dive into some practical tips to help you steer clear of trouble.


Understanding Unexpected Costs

Surprise Charges and How to Spot Them

Apps are often free to download, but the real cost can sneak up on you later. In-app purchases, subscriptions, and even hidden fees can turn a seemingly free app into a money pit. Here’s how to stay vigilant:

  • Read the Fine Print: Before you download, check the app’s description for in-app purchases and subscription details. Look for any mention of costs that might not be obvious at first glance.
  • Monitor Your Statements: Regularly check your bank and app store statements for any unexpected charges. This will help you catch any unwanted subscriptions or purchases quickly.
  • Do Not Save Payment Information if Available: Though it may be convenient to save your payment information for future use, this leaves you open to accidental purchases, recurring fees, or even predatory charges.
  • Set Up Purchase Restrictions: Use parental controls or purchase restrictions on your devices to prevent accidental purchases. Both iOS and Android devices offer settings to require a password or fingerprint to confirm a transaction.

Beware of Scam Apps

How to Identify and Avoid Fraudulent Apps

Scam apps are designed to look legitimate but are created with the sole purpose of stealing your money or personal information. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

  • Check the Reviews: Look at the app’s reviews before downloading. Be wary of apps with a lot of negative feedback or complaints about unexpected charges or popups.
  • Research the Developer: Make sure the app comes from a reputable developer. You can usually find this information in the app store listing.
  • Limit Access: Apps need your permission to gain access to additional systems such as your contacts, initiating calls, or using the camera. Do not give apps access to systems that are not relevant to why you are using the app.
  • Struggling Devices: Though there are plenty of higher-end games that can cause your device to heat up and drain your battery due to higher graphics requirements, simpler games with unusually high system requirements should be treated with caution, as they may be running additional functions in the background.

Avoiding Addictive and Predatory App Features

Recognize the Red Flags

Some apps are designed to keep you hooked, often using features that encourage excessive spending. Here’s what to watch for:

  • In-App Currencies: Apps that use their own currency can make it hard to see how much you’re really spending. Avoid apps that encourage you to buy “gems” or “coins” with real money, often offering better deals at larger dollar amounts.
  • Timed Events and Limited Offers: These features create a sense of urgency, pushing you to make purchases you might not otherwise consider. Be wary of apps that frequently offer “limited-time” deals or events.
  • Energy Systems and Microtransactions: Many apps utilize frequent smaller transactions to incentivize their clients into spending significantly more money over a longer period than they would be willing to spend on a single purchase. Track how much money you have spent in total for an app to keep things from getting out of hand.
  • Loot Boxes and Mystery Items: Apps that sell virtual items with unknown content can be highly addictive. In conjunction with in-app currencies, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and spend more than you intended while trying to get a rare prize.
  • Set a budget: It’s up to you how you spend your money, but setting a budget for app spending can help you avoid overspending and keep your finances in check.

Your financial security is our priority, and taking proactive steps to protect yourself might make all the difference. WNB Financial is committed to helping you navigate these challenges with confidence. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.


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