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Fake apps tricking consumers

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Our dependence on smartphones continues to grow. In fact, a recent survey says nearly 60 percent of consumers will use their phone to view a website or an app. Doing that is a good idea but according to Ken Colburn, a technology expert at Data Doctors, you have to be careful.

"Cyber thieves know we're using these mobile devices a lot more to do online shopping," Colburn said.

While downloading apps on your mobile devices can certainly make online holiday shopping more convenient, you have to remember it comes with some risks.

"Starting in early November, we started seeing a lot of fake apps making it into both Apple's and Google's apps stores," Colburn said.

Colburn goes on to say many of these rogue apps were developed over in China. For example, shoe retailer Foot Locker has three legitimate apps. However, published reports say a scammer created an app called Footlocke Sports Co. in order to trick consumers and to collect personal information like credit card numbers.

Apple removed that counterfeit app as well as hundreds of other fakes from their app store. According to Colburn, crooks are constantly expanding their scam trying to sneak in fake apps in an effort to dupe you.

"It is absolutely a game of whack-a-mole," he said.

So how can you be confident that you're getting a real app and not a fake? Colburn offers the following advice: "Go to the company's website and find their mobile download link, so that way you know for sure, you know you're getting that company's mobile download app."

Also something else to keep in mind when it comes to shopping with your mobile device, this tip has to do with saving you money. Colburn said consumers can actually save a few dollars by getting coupon codes through a website called JoinHoney.com. He said the site automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout so you save money.

Colburn also recommends going to a site called Ebates.com where consumers get cash back both online and in stores.

"Another possible way to save money is by leaving things in a shopping cart, so as long as it's not a high-demand item where you basically better buy it where you find it," he said. "In some cases if you put something in a shopping cart and leave it there, leave your browser open for a day or so, let it run in the background, on some occasions retailers in order to incent you to finalize the purchase will send you a coupon code or send you some discount to try to encourage you to make that purchase."

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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