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Regulators grill Apple over failings in fighting App Store scams on consumers

*Developers allege Apple is making large sums of money from scams on its app marketplace

*But the company spends ‘hundreds of millions’ each year curating the (App) store and reviewing each app ‘for privacy, safety, security and performance’, says Kyle Andeer, Chief Compliance Officer of Apple

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In connection with an allegation that Apple appears to profit from App Store scams instead of refunding all associated revenues to the affected consumers, the US Senate, during an antitrust hearing Thursday, April 22, 2021, grilled Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) Kyle Andeer on the company’s apparent inability to combat subscription scammers on the platform.

ConsumerConnect learnt Apple, however, argued that one of its reasons for requiring developers to pay App Store commissions is that the money goes toward helping to keep scams from proliferating in the marketplace.

But developers also have claimed that Apple still is not effectively keeping scams off its App Store in the process, agency report said.

Sen. Jon Ossoff from (D-Georgia), said it’s “trivially easy” to find predatory scam apps on the company’s platform, yet Apple still appears to be unable to locate them on its own.

Ossoff said the scam apps were drawing in big currencies, and Apple makes money every time a scammer takes money from a defenceless consumer.

Relating the company’s efforts at addressing the problem thus far, Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Andeer noted the company spends “hundreds of millions” each year curating the store and reviewing each app “for privacy, safety, security and performance.”

He said: “Unfortunately, security and fraud is a cat-and-mouse game. Any retailer will tell you that. And so we’re constantly working to improve.”

According to him, Apple is investing in more resources and technologies aimed at fighting scams.

He noted that the App Store rejects thousands of apps each year that it deems to be a risk to consumers.

Without Apple’s efforts, he contended that the situation would be far worse.

Andeer further noted: “No one is perfect, but I think what we’ve shown over and over again that we do a better job than others.

“I think the real risks of opening up the iPhone to sideloading or third-party app stores is that this problem will only multiply. If we look at other app stores out there, we look at other distribution platforms, it scares us.”

On accusation illegally profiting off of scam billing practices in App Store, Sen. Ossoff then circled back to his question about the scam apps and whether Apple profits off of them, asking “Apple is making a cut on those abusive billing practices, are you not?”

Andeer replied that he did not believe that was the case and reiterated that Apple strives to fight issues quickly after they’re found.

“If we find fraud — if we find a problem, we’re able to rectify that very quickly. And we do each and every day,” he said.

Ossoff then asked if Apple refunds 100 percent of the money it makes from scam billing practices to consumers.

In his response, Andeer stressed that Apple works hard to make sure that consumers who report a scam or file a complaint are made “whole”, but he stopped short of saying that Apple refunds “all customers.”

“Senator, that’s my understanding. There’s obviously a dedicated team here at Apple who works this each and every day.

“But my understanding is that we work hard to make sure the customer is in a whole position.

“That’s our focus at the end of the day. If we lose the trust of our customers, that’s going to hurt us,” he added.

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