Attorney General Alerts

    Understanding Apps


    August 26, 2015

    Technology is constantly evolving and leading to new ways to make everyday tasks a little easier − from grocery shopping to mapping out directions and automatically paying the bills. According to Pew Research, nearly two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone. More people are browsing app stores to download games, utilities and other useful applications. While these apps have great uses, some do not protect personal information and some can even download viruses to your phone.

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans on how to ensure personal information is protected and kept private from app companies and even scammers.

    “Apps can be very convenient,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, depending on the phone’s security settings, app companies can collect personal information such as call logs, phone and email contacts, texts, calendar data and the device’s location, then sell that to another company. Consumers should always read the privacy policy and permissions for an app because those will describe the access the app requires or requests.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for smartphone users:

    • Consider finding another app if the description does not have a privacy policy, contact information or a website for the developer. It is important to consider who created the app and only download from trusted sources.
    • Be aware that some free apps contain advertising within the app, offer “in-app” purchases or make a more advanced version of the app available for a cost.
    • Consumers concerned about sharing location data with advertisers can turn off location services in phone settings.
    • Keep apps up to date by installing new versions or upgrades when available because updates could contain security fixes.
    • Parents should talk to children about rules for using apps and try the app before allowing children to access it.

    Computer hackers have even created apps that can infect phones and mobile devices with malware. Malware is software, including spyware, viruses and phishing scams and can result in emails or texts being sent that were not actually written by the owner of the phone, or even make charges to accounts saved on the phone. If malware is found to be downloaded, contact the service provider, notify the company that made the device or install a security app to scan and remove malware apps.

    For more information on protecting personal information and other Internet safety information, along with consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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