Any investment comes with inherent risk. This is true regardless of whether the investment is made through long-standing channels such as the stock market or via new and trendy avenues like cryptocurrency. There is money to be made if you are willing to place capital on the line. There is also plenty of money to be lost the up and down which is the nature of any risky investment. Newcomers and seasoned pros alike understand that there is no surefire way to getting rich overnight. Is it possible? Sure. Likely? Not really. But with a bit of education and some high-quality guidance, you can probably increase your personal wealth through investments in the long run.
In today’s digital world, investing has never been easier to do. There are many tools and apps at our disposal which are designed to help the average person learn how to make investments of all kinds. This has opened up new horizons for people to invest in many markets once thought to be reserved for Wall Street wizards or your financial advisor. Extreme ease of access means that it’s also never been easier to be scammed out of large sums of money by accidentally using bogus investment brokerage, banking, and crypto-platform apps.
The Rise of Accessible Investing
The increased accessibility of investing apps correlates to the rise of mobile device convenience in our daily lives. As nearly every aspect of modern life turns digital, developers create products to keep up. Today we take smartphone necessities such as navigation or weather apps for granted even though they were nearly revolutionary when they were first available. The evolution of this convenience has continued at a rapid clip, with mobile banking and investment apps providing a new level of access to tasks once left on the trading floor or meeting room.
You no longer need to have an appointment with a financial professional to make an investment move – you can do it with a swipe of a finger while you are in your pajamas. There are pros and cons to this accessibility, obviously. A revived interest in investing has led to a rapid spread of knowledge and tactics alongside the ability for individuals to have direct control of their financial futures. On the flip side, poor investments made on the advice of social media forums can artificially temporarily inflate asset values and lead to inevitable crashes where people make or break their life savings. Think back to the GameStop/WallStreetBets issue for a refresher on how wild this investing world can be.
Hundreds of Fake Apps Lurk in Popular Platforms
There are plenty of legitimate apps available to help you invest, save, or dabble in trading stocks, commodities, or currencies for the first time. Robinhood is one of the early apps that people flocked to for its ease of use and sign-up promotions. Coinbase is a popular cryptocurrency trading app that has made this volatile and rapidly evolving form of investing popular with everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z-ers. Nearly every bank or credit union now has a mobile app that will provide you with easy access to your accounts and the ability to transfer, send, and invest money however you see fit. Gone are the days where you need to pay a fee or commission for these types of services.
Along with these authentic services that make your financial life easier there are also hundreds of fake apps designed to steal your money or to scam you into divulging your personal information. Many of these bogus apps are found in the same portals where you download the legitimate apps – the app stores on iOS and Android platforms. They often appear as copycat apps that trick you into downloading them by thinking that they are the official version of the program they are imitating. The scams don’t stop at just convincing you into downloading – they go a step further and often use phony websites that appear fully functional and official. These fake apps can mimic a popular investing app or a bank that you might already do business with.
Victims of this scam are enticed by possible returns on investment or signup promotions that promise free money you can use to increase the value of initial trades. Through a downloaded app or online portal, scammers will convince you to transfer funds into the program the same way real apps do. The difference is that once you submit your initial funds and/or personal information, the threat actors will go dark and make off with your money and data.
How to Spot these Scams and Defend Yourself
Knowing that these scams exist is the first line of defense against falling victim to them. While some of them sneak into the official iOS or Android app stores, the majority pop up as third-party apps on social media or other channels.
- Never download an unofficial app from a social media platform. This is especially true if the link connects you to a website for download rather than to the iOS or Android app stores. Dating apps have been one possible outlet for this type of scam. Always avoid clicking links or downloading through questionable channels.
- Do not transfer funds or provide personal information if an app or program seems suspect. Even if the app appears legitimate or looks like a business that you are already familiar with, double-check that the program is indeed authentic. Caution is key, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Even if you are thinking of downloading an app from the iOS or Android apps stores, use caution before downloading. Check the developer’s name and make sure it is not misspelled. If the logo looks fake, there’s a good chance that the app is also illegitimate. Read reviews from other people to see if they have had bad experiences or malware issues. Check the release date and the number of downloads to help verify legitimacy. The most popular investing and finance apps have been around for a while and have millions of downloads. If you see one that is brand new with a small number of downloads, it could be phony.
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