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What Is Fleeceware? How To Protect Your Devices From Fleeceware Apps?

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Fleeceware name should be enough to warn you to stay away. They are dangerous, but cannot be called malware. These apps do not involve installing a virus or anything similar to your computer or any other device like mobile. Nevertheless, these apps are malicious because they can take a huge amount out of your pocket without your legal consent. Yes, rarely do people go through the terms and conditions (T&C) page before accepting and installing the apps.

In certain cases, you will be aware that you are being charged for some app even if you have removed it from your device but you have no way to stop it. This happens because even if you uninstall or remove the app from your computer or phone, the subscription does not end. The downside is that you have accepted the terms and conditions you cannot get out of it without unsubscribing from the particular app.

There are two kinds of fleeceware:

  • One draws a lot of money out of your pocket either at the time purchase of the app or when you reach the end of the trial period.
  • The other type of fleeceware is the one that rings the door every month even after you have uninstalled the app from your device.

How to protect yourself from fleeceware apps?

Many people believe that if something is costly, the services provided are really great. This should be thrown out of the mind because there are alternatives that not only provide the same services but also are of low cost. You also have options that provide services for free.

Another thing to do is stop taking decisions impulsively. Sometimes one might get impressed by the advertisements and the presentation and end up buying it without looking into the consequences. The problem is they consider the cards you have linked to your Google account, you might end up paying for them just because of ignorance. These charges are not clearly visible in your statements and so you cannot even understand why exactly the money got deducted.

Mostly the apps charge you in three ways; One-time, Monthly, or Both.

Some fleeceware apps will draw your money only when you install the app. This occurs when you install apps with a trial period and when that gets over you are charged for it. You do not get notified and end up paying for it.

Some fleeceware apps charge you periodically like monthly or yearly. It is hard to make out where is your money going. Getting rid of it is also difficult as you never have a clear idea. Additionally, you do not get any bills/invoices before/after the money gets deducted from your account.

At some point in time you might realize that all this is happening due to the app you have installed and then you end up uninstalling it. But even after that, you see further transactions and that is because you have not read the terms in a proper manner. The manufacturer of the apps targets the digital illiteracy of users. By downloading such apps, you give your approval to the billing system of developers of that app to handle things for you.

You should make it clear in your mind that uninstalling the app from the device and unsubscribing are two different things. Most people are not aware of such things and that is where the problem lies.

Best practices to keep yourself protected from fleeceware apps

  • Never miss out on any line mentioned in the terms and conditions of that app. Read the document thoroughly. Read the lines and read between the lines.
  • Check out the base price and check out the alternatives. One should not ideally go after something just because that is expensive. There are a lot of other apps that can provide you the same service free of cost or at a lesser price.
  • If You realize you are being charged without your consent, unsubscribe instead of just uninstalling.
  • If you are not well aware of such things like how you should unsubscribe and uninstall, take help. Taking someone’s help who can help you with the steps or direction will really be fruitful.
  • Do not rely on apps outside of either the Android Play Store or iOS AppStore. Because only here, you are least exposed to the risk.
Ankita Mohanty is a Software Engineer who has the passion for content creation, tech and travel. She believes in that there's nothing in this world that's unachievable when you work hard for it.