Well, it seems that we are starting 2020 with a series of incomplete news about Android applications, with a new report that identifies a set of applications called “fleeceware” to avoid. And this report follows the group of applications we told you only one day ago that bombarded users with ads, depleted their phone’s battery and more.
Fleeceware applications are those that are discovered by abusing the trial period that Android applications can run before a user receives their first charge. A new report from the UK-based cybersecurity firm, Sophos, says that this new group of applications, which have apparently accumulated more than 600 million installations between them, can affect users with large charges once they are a trial subscription period closes and the user has not formally canceled on time. These charges also ignore the fact that the user may have removed the application from their device, which some (but not all) applications take as a signal that the user wishes to cancel a subscription or trial offer.
“One reason why Sophos wants to raise awareness and highlight this Fleeceware business model is that this business model can cause significant damage to users and there are few resources,” says the UK firm in its report. “The Google Play Store policies are significantly less consumer friendly than the US credit card policies; those who managed to get refunds could only get them with great difficulty.”
One of the applications cited by Sophos is called Fortunemirror, which announces a daily horoscope service that allows you to try it for free, after which it costs $ 69.99 / week (adding $ 3,639.48 per year!):
Applications in this group also present multiple opportunities for users to get confused, as some of them apparently also show a monthly subscription rate on one screen and then a different weekly rate on another screen. In addition to the problem: Sophos’ team suspects that some of these applications created a great deal of positive (but artificial) criticism, to imply legitimacy.
What can users do about it? An easy step if you are concerned is to look for similar applications from a developer or publisher with a strong reputation. “If you have a free trial version,” Sophos’ team continues, “make sure you understand that simply uninstalling the application does not cancel the trial period.
“Some publishers require you to send a specific email or follow other complicated instructions to finish the free trial before it is charged, although you may only need to sign in to Google Pay to cancel. Keep copies of all correspondence with the editor and prepare to share it with Google if you end up disputing the charges. “
The applications that Sophos team identified include:
- Face X Play
- Go Keyboard
- GO Keyboard Lite
- GO SMS Pro
- GO Recorder
- GO Security
- Z camera
- Master Recorder
- S Photo Editor
- Wonder video
- Photo recovery and video recovery
- Screen recorder
- V recorder