Apple turns to users to help report App Store scams

Apple is making it easier for users to report scammy or fraudulent apps directly from the App Store, as the company turns to its hefty user-base to help weed out bad developers. A "Report a Problem" button has quietly been added back to each app's listing in the App Store, complete with a new option for scam software.

Apple's pitch for the App Store has always been that its curated approach means it's a safer place to download software than rival platforms. Nonetheless, even with the layers of approval that developers must go through before their apps can be listed, rogue titles still occasionally make it through.

User reports of such apps, meanwhile, were possible but hardly straightforward. Previously, the "Report a Problem" option was buried at the very bottom of the Apps and Games tabs in the App Store, The Verge points out, which linked to a separate website. After signing in again, you could flag a suspect title, though there was no specific option to highlight something which seemed like a scam.

Now, as of iOS 15, the "Report a Problem" button has been given a far more obvious location. Kosta Eleftheriou highlighted the change on Twitter, including a new "Report a scam or fraud" option which can be selected after you've clicked the relocated button.

The report process still isn't handled entirely within the App Store. You'll be redirected to a separate page, and need to sign in to your Apple account before you can log a comment.

Still, the bigger change is in the overall process here. Previously you could only report "a quality issue" in an app – such as it being misleading or fraudulent – after you'd purchased it, made an in-app payment within a free to download app. That decision was presumably made to ensure only people with actual experience could flag an issue, but it also meant that you'd need to pay the scammers before you could report them.

Now, however, you don't need to have made a payment to use the new reporting options. Apple will still need to manually review the reports, and take action, but it's likely to see an uptick in those reports being made now that the process is more straightforward overall.

Apple claims to have 1.8 million apps in the App Store currently, with 175 different storefronts for international users. The company uses a combination of automatic malware scanning and human review to check titles for safety, with "over 500 dedicated" experts assessing over 100,000 apps each week.