Google apps banned: Full list of 150 sickening apps booted from Play Store
- Google apps banned: Shocking as it may seem, but over 10 mn users were probably affected by these SMS scam apps. These 150 dangerous apps were duping users and were banned by Google Play Store.
Google has banned another 150 dangerous apps from its app store called the Google Play Store. These 150 malicious SMS scam apps on Play Store were part of a campaign called UltimaSMS wherein malicious actors sign victims up for expensive premium SMS services that earns them money while ultimately leaving victims facing big losses. Avast says that these apps have been downloaded more than 10.5 million times from Google Play Store and “are nearly identical in structure and functionality.” You can check link of full list of 150 SMS scam apps banned by Google Play Store later in article.
What is worrisome about UltimaSMS scam campaign is that it is not limited to a country or topography. Rather it is spread across the globe with Android users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UAE, Turkey, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, US and Poland being the most affected countries.
How these sickening SMS scam apps work - the modus operandi
As Avast explains it, when a user downloads these apps from Google Play Store, the app checks their location, IMEI number, and phone number to determine which country area code and language to use for the scam. Once the user opens the app, a screen in the local language of their device is set to prompt them to enter their phone number, and in some cases, email address to gain access to the app's advertised purpose.
Upon entering the requested details, the user is subscribed to premium SMS services that can charge upwards of $40 per month depending on the country and mobile carrier. Instead of unlocking the apps' advertised features, these apps either display further SMS subscriptions options or stop working altogether. The sole purpose of the fake apps is to deceive users into signing up for premium SMS subscriptions.
“...many people who submitted their phone numbers into the apps might not even realize the extra charges to their phone bill are connected to the apps,” Avast wrote in the blog.
Google apps ban: Check full list of 150 sickening apps removed from Google Play Store
You can check the entire list of malicious malicious apps banned by Google Play Store here.
How to save yourself malicious apps found on Google Play Store
Avast has shared some tips to help users to protect themselves from such SMS scams on these dangerous apps. Take a peek:
1. Disable the premium SMS option with your carrier. Disabling this option will nullify the UltimaSMS scam.
2. Carefully check reviews. Scam apps often have boosted review averages, but written reviews may reveal the true purpose of an app.
3. Don't enter a phone number unless you trust the app.
4. Read the fine print available in the app details before entering details.
5. Stick to official app stores - Google Play Store or Apple's App Store - when downloading apps.