We all consider ourselves to be pretty tech savvy these days and can fairly easily spot a scam when it invades our screen. Phishing usually just looks like the equivalent of a shady character in a dark alley, easy to avoid by not clicking and giving away information. However a newer frontier for scam opportunities isn't as easy to identify: fake apps.
Surely something on an app store will be vetted to the point of a secure download right? Yes and no. Apps posing as a company you are familiar with can slip through the cracks to be in a position to take your information.
Just as with fraudulent sites that wish to steal your information, there are telltale signs that can keep you and your information safe.
Look into the app's publisher. Scammers commonly use a fake name similar to the legitimate company they are trying to impersonate. A verified developer account's branding will be consistent with the real company you wish to do business with.
Read past reviews. Apps from a trusted developer will have thousands of reviews and hundreds of comments, and while fake reviews are going to happen, it's usually a good sign if they are more positive than negative. Fake apps, on the other hand, will have a suspiciously low number of reviews which often center around their poor functionality.
Look at the publish date. Legitimate apps will have regular updates in addition to their original publish date on their app store page. Fake apps will have recent publish dates because they are purged from app stores often.
Check the grammar. Spelling and grammar mistakes are common in fake apps, sometimes even in the title of the app. These apps generally come from outside the US, so if english mistakes are throughout the app description then it is not an official version.
Go to the site. The best way to make sure you are getting the official version of a company's app is to go to their website and follow their link to the app store page.
In summary, look out for yourself.
We live in a time of perceived mobile app security, but the truth is that the Apple and Google Play stores can't keep up with fake apps that continually pop up. Booted apps get resubmitted under different names or apps change their function to something malicious after they are approved. Follow the above best practices for a safe experience with mobile app purchases.