When we visit the Apple App Store, we do so with the expectation that whatever we download will help us in some way. Whether it is a game, utility app or something else, we trust it.
It doesn’t even matter if the app costs money or is free. Apple does plenty to vet their apps and therefore we feel we can browse and download with confidence.
Many apps these days require a subscription service, which we really don’t have a problem paying for. Things like Netflix, Amazon Prime and others provide extra benefits when you subscribe, and it’s not really a bad deal.
Unfortunately, some subscriptions are out to trick you
The idea that app developers would take advantage of people is not really new, as for years now many have, among other things, offered free trials that eventually turn into paid subscriptions.
Developers do this because there is plenty of money to be made in apps, especially when subscriptions are involved. Subscriptions account for billions of dollars in revenue from the Apple App Store, and while the majority of apps are wholesome in nature, there is a rising tide filled with those looking to scam a quick buck.
Bigger companies like the aforementioned Netflix and Amazon, and others like them, are pretty trustworthy when it comes to what you are signing up for. You know how much it will cost and you are well aware of what that money will get you.
But more and more there are apps popping up that aim to trick you into signing up for a subscription service, one that will be both expensive and recurring. They confuse people with clunky apps and promise free trials that, soon after signing up, convert to paid subscriptions.
Unfortunately, the types of apps that run this kind of scheme vary, so they will not necessarily be easy to avoid. Some involve utilities like QR code readers, while others offer dating services or videos.
For the most part, none of them are the kind of apps you would want to pay a subscription fee for, yet they find ways to trick or coerce people into doing exactly that. And, finally, people are starting to notice.
Yet, for as bad as it is, the scam is not exactly illegal.
The bad apps can be tough to spot
One app that has been pointed out is Scanner App, which is a top-70 grossing app in the Apple Store. Incredibly popular and highly-reviewed, a deeper scan into some of its complaints would reveal questions about how “free” it actually is.
Technically it is free, of course, but there are multiple prompts to get you to sign up for a subscription, even one that offers a free trial that turns into a costly subscription after just three days.
The same is true for QR Code Reader, which if not caught, could lead to someone paying $156 over the course of a year to use an app that provides a function the iPhone camera app can do on its own. Wow!
Those apps take advantage of the free trial scam, while others will have windows pop up while in the app that convince you to spend some money. However they go about it, they all try to convince you to enter into a subscription that if you don’t realize is happening, could cost you plenty in the end.
Worst of all, you may be paying for one without even realizing it.
Unsure of your subscriptions? Here’s how to manage them
The problem with the subscriptions in our apps is that once we sign up for them, nothing will change unless we manually choose to end them. And while Google makes it pretty simple to unsubscribe, Apple’s system is more complicated, but still plenty doable.
To manage your subscriptions, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings >> Your Name >> iTunes & App Store
- Tap on your Apple ID, which is located at the top of the screen
- Tap on “View Apple ID.” It is possible that you will be asked to reauthenticate your Apple ID.
- Scroll down until you find “Subscriptions,” and tap on that.
This will then open up a page listing all the services you are subscribed to. Tap on whichever one you would like to manage and then choose how you would like to proceed.
If you notice an app you are paying for but didn’t realize it, there will not be much you can do to change the past. However, you could at least cancel it now so that you will no longer be making payments in the future.
And even if you do not think you have any subscriptions to worry about, it would not be a bad idea to go through this process just to make sure. Some of the subscriptions are quite sneaky, after all, and you may not even realize you are a part of one.