Do You Know Whether You Are Using Fake Apps (Applications)?

Almost everyone uses a cell phone today. And, the number using a smart phone and/or any other mobile device, such as a tablet, is increasing daily.  We know that cell phones can be used to send instant text messages, which for many are used more frequently than communicating in person, on the telephone or sending an email. And, it has been reported that some individuals now spend more than four (4) hours or more a day using mobile devices. With the added time spent surfing the internet on all devices, using (icons on a desktop or) applications on a mobile device has become increasingly advantageous and customary for many of us.

Applications are more commonly referred to as “apps.” At this point there are approximately  4 million apps for Apple and Android cell phones.  Using apps save a lot of time, do not require entering information on a search bar, and then selecting from a host of different entries or listings. As  result, many consider apps to have become priceless (not just the free ones, but even those that come with a fixed price at the beginning and/or even a monthly fee).

Some apps are simply a convenient way to reach a business, and for many apps that are free there often are lots of advertisements that can be a nuisance. But, some apps bring with their use both spam and viruses, while others can cause a great deal of harm, for example when a culprit uses their fake app to obtain all of our confidential information stored on our device.  Yes, there are a growing number of apps every day that are fake & not genuine. The average individual would not ordinarily be able to discern whether an app is legitimate because they use the exact logo, same address and everything including the order form that makes them look genuine, except the telephone number and email address with which you are using to communicate.

Even worse once you find an object on the internet using a counterfeit or fake app (and, not knowing it is not authentic) to order and make a purchase,  you will never get the product, but your credit card will be charged. Then, all of your identification information will have been gathered, and before you know it you will have to cancel your credit card because it has become an object of identity theft of hundreds and potentially thousands of dollars. You may be naive to what has taken place and innocently give your address, your driver’s license number, and/or Social Security number (even just the last four digits). The problems just begin, having to report the suspicious and illegal activity, and cancel your credit card, which can ruin your credit.  In addition, some or all of your private and confidential information stored on your device, however, may also be hacked and open to countless others.

An alternative may be to go online and find the “actual” business, then search to see if they have an app, and/or call and speak to their customer service to inquire if there is a link to their app and the online page for you to click. But, next time be cautious and  really certain the app is genuine before you provide your identification information to a retailer or anyone when surfing the internet. This cautionary note is also relevant when providing information to anyone with whom you are speaking, whether in person or on the telephone; and, take the same precautions whether you have contacted a business to make a purchase or sought a service through the internet.

California Petty Theft Laws: Detention and Civil Demands

Unless specifically set forth as grounds for Grand Theft, the Petty Theft laws apply, as follows:

  •  Petty Theft is often referred to as shoplifting; as a general rule it takes place when one obtains property by theft, that involves a value less than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950);
  • A first conviction generally constitutes and is punished as a misdemeanor. Penal Code Section 490 provides for a fine for each violation of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or up to six (6) months in the county jail, or both;
  • The prosecutor (District Attorney or City Attorney) has the discretion to charge the defendant as an infraction if the person has no prior theft or theft-related conviction (Section 490.1);
  • In addition to other civil remedies, the merchant can make a civil demand and collect up to five hundred dollars ($500), plus costs. In addition, the store may collect the retail value of the merchandise;
  • Pursuant to 490.5 (f) (1) of the Penal Code, a merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time to conduct an investigation if the merchant has probable cause to believe the person of interest unlawfully attempted to take or has unlawfully taken merchandise from the premises of the store.
  • A reasonable amount of force not likely to cause great bodily harm may be used if it is necessary and, therefore it becomes, justifiable, to protect oneself and/or to prevent the person who has been detained from fleeing &/or the loss of the merchant’s property;
  • Following the above principles, the merchant may request the person who has been detained to voluntarily surrender the item in question, and if refused, is permitted to conduct a reasonable search to recover the same. This involves and is limited to handbags, packages, shopping bags and/or other property possessed by the detained person; this search does not, however, encompass any clothing worn. Crimes Against Property:

Although a merchant may demand attorney’s fees or threaten to cause harm to a person’s credit, they do not have the power to do so [attorney’s fees are prohibited in such a case, and because there has been no adjudication of money owed, they cannot report someone to a credit bureau]. Also, it may be deemed a violation of State extortion and Federal collection laws for a merchant to threaten criminal &/or civil action

The facts and circumstances differ in one case from another and, therefore, the information in this Blog is not intended as legal advice.