The success of Apple’s App Store could soon hit a bump. iPhone users are allegedly in danger of a scam that’s cost them dear. The worst bit? Not only is Apple aware of this, it doesn’t seem willing to take direct action.
The result? Apple is keeping an app on its famed App Store that’s chalked up complaints from people accusing it of fraudulently emptying their iTunes accounts. And the victims are understandably frustrated with Apple’s inaction to stop what appears to be systematic theft.
The fact that that app – Sega’s Kingdom Conquest on the iPhone – is still on the App Store following a catalogue of complaints is, frankly, astonishing.
The reviews on the app say it all:
‘So many people like my six year old have had their accounts wiped by this. No support from Apple.’
‘This app took £55 from my iTunes account even though I have not downloaded it, viewed it or even known about it.’
‘Like others never heard of this app until I got a receipt for purchasing it. Complete scam, made even worse by Apple knowing about it. Shameful Apple, very shameful.’
‘Sent four emails to iTunes/Apple yet no progress, despite a store manager emailing them also. How this app is still on the App Store is beyond belief.’
Beyond belief is bang on. Why is Apple, despite complaints, doing nothing? Sadly, only Apple knows. Yet each day Apple sits on its hands, more unwary iPod, iPhone and iPad customers are falling victim to the problem. And that simply isn’t good enough.
Apple’s response to complaints
For the record, the app’s maker – Sega – insists the problem isn’t with the app. If that’s the case, then Apple has to take responsibility for every consumer that ends up out of pocket, and admit to what could be a real problem with a possible hacking of the iTunes system.
I alerted Apple to the problem, directly asking them why they haven’t taken any action. Apple responded by saying:
‘We’re always working to enhance account security for iTunes users. If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes you should contact your financial institution about any unauthorized purchases, and be sure to change your iTunes account password right away. For tips on protecting your iTunes account security visit www.apple.com/support/itunes.’
It is a response – but it’ll be small comfort to those seemingly a victim of fraud. Plus, at the time of writing, the app is still available.
Apple’s iTunes and App Store is a great service – but is the company effectively hiding a hacking issue so as not to tarnish the App Store’s image?
With nearly half-a-million apps and 225m iTunes accounts, news of an iTunes hack wouldn’t be great for a company that last year reeled from the iPhone 4 antenna scandal (you know, the one Apple didn’t even acknowledge until faced with an overwhelming volume of noise from the world’s media).
Here’s what Apple needs to do:
1. If consumers are falling foul of an iTunes hacking scam, and it’s linked to this app, then it makes sense for Apple to remove it immediately to stop more consumers falling victim to a possible scam.
2. Apple should listen to its customers, and admit publicly to any iTunes account issue.
3. Apple must take immediate steps to protect customers from getting their accounts compromised and refund immediately anyone affected.
I’m betting Apple’s customers will continue to meet a wall of silence on this. But allowing them to get ripped off? In Apple’s case, it seems there’s an app for that.