Con­sumer Alert On Un­der­stand­ing Apps

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - COMMUNITY -

LIT­TLE ROCK — 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 the 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 “in­app” 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 avail- able 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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