BBB warns about mobile device apps

January 23, 2013 4:16:17 AM PST
Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, joins ABC7 to share information on apps parents should know.

The Better Business Bureau Warns Parents Some Mobile Applications Maybe Siphoning Children's Data

Chicago IL - As a new, younger generation comes online, Better Business Bureau warns parents that some mobile applications for smart phones and tablets may be siphoning children's data and sharing it. In most cases, developers are not disclosing whether data is being collected, with whom it is being shared or how it is used.

A study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that nearly 60 percent of children's applications available from the iTunes store and Google Play that were examined by researchers "failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection and who would obtain access to the data."

The data collected and shared can include the child's location, telephone number, contacts, device ID and other information contained on the mobile device. More worrying, according to the FTC, is that some applications offer the ability to make purchases and provide links to social media "without disclosing these features prior to download." Additionally, the study found that only 20 percent of the apps reviewed disclose any privacy policies, 22 percent contain links to social networking sites and almost 60 percent of them transmit information to advertisers, analytics companies and other third parties.

BBB recommends parents take these steps to protect their children and families' personal information:

Research before downloading. Carefully examine the details of the app, including the description, developer information and privacy policy. Additionally, read reviews from other customers, not only at the download sites, but also through search engines.

Carefully research free apps. Of the free apps that were studied, 58 percent were "ad-supported," which typically led to an app download site when clicked. This could give young children the option to download apps without their parents' permission.

Control kids' sharing. Determine whether applications allow young users to post their own content to social media sites and decide whether it is appropriate to allow your children to do so before downloading an app.

Do Not Let Facebook Scammers Profit off your "Likes"

CHICAGO, IL- Facebook was designed as a space to connect and stay in touch with friends but recently scammers have been using the social media site for their own gain. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) warns to be on the lookout for the new viral scam that uses your "likes" to make money. This Facebook scam uses bright pictures and alluring offers to attract users to the promotion. After the user "likes" the post they do not receive the promised offer and the scam shows up in their new feed and is passed along to others. The scammer's goal is to collect a large number of "likes" to give the page a high "edge rank". The "edge rank" determines visibility of the page on Facebook. After gaining many comments and likes and achieving a high "edge rate", the scammers then sell the page.

"This type of scam play off people's emotions and excitement," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Unfortunately when an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is. Consumers should be very careful when clicking on links while online, and should make sure that they are only going through legitimate offers and sites."

The BBB offers these tips when you spot an online scam:

Do not interact with the offer. Clicking on the scam, "liking" it or leaving a comment only increases the "edge rank" of the post and perpetuates the scam.

Report the Scam. Facebook offers its own steps to report a scam to stop the spread through newsfeeds. Follow these instructions at if you see a scam.

Use the Better Business Bureau resources. For more information on scams and tips on how to avoid them check out the BBB Scam Stopper:

For more advice on avoiding scams and finding reputable businesses around the holidays, visit