Beware: 'Free' apps may cost you

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There is always a catch for those "free" apps for your phone. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There is always a catch for those "free" apps for your phone. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Many of those free apps usually make their money with advertisements. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Many of those free apps usually make their money with advertisements. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The apps may ask you to sign up using one of your other social media accounts like Twitter or Instagram. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The apps may ask you to sign up using one of your other social media accounts like Twitter or Instagram. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
It's a good idea to go through your phone periodically and look for apps you don't use anymore. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It's a good idea to go through your phone periodically and look for apps you don't use anymore. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Phones, laptops and tablets. All those, are all part of our culture and a big part of our entertainment

“Apps are one of the biggest reasons we love our smartphones and free apps. Everybody loves free apps!” Ken Colburn of Data Doctors said.

But Colburn says there's always a catch to "free." 

“First and foremost, you gotta understand why is this app free? There's gotta be an angle, this is not some altruistic thing. There has to be a revenue component somewhere in there,” Colburn said.

He's right. Many of those free apps usually make their money with advertisements.

“Generally speaking, a free app is supported through advertising. In general, people will say, 'I’m willing to put up with ads to get a free app,'” Colburn said.

But these free apps could end up costing you in other ways.

“The problem is if you're in a limited data program and you use these free apps, a lot of these ads are downloading in the background while you're playing these games. You're using up your data plan with these free apps,” Colburn said.

And there are other gimmicks those free apps utilize that you need to be aware of.

“Another thing that a lot of free apps ask for and sometimes require in exchange for this free app, they have you sign in with your Facebook account or what have you,” Colburn said.

Or they may ask you to sign up using one of your other social media accounts like Twitter or Instagram.

“Basically, you've given them a lot of personal information about you and they can silently track your usage,” Colburn said. 

So, Colburn said before you hit that next "free app," think twice.

“It might make sense to spend the 99 cents so that you never have to worry about these ads kinda eating up your data plan,” Colburn said. 

By the way, it's a good idea to go through your phone periodically and look for apps you don't use anymore. Getting rid of those apps will free up space and may prevent unwanted data from being used.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/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.

Click to learn more about Gary.

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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