FTC Raises Red Flags on Mobile Apps for Shopping

FTC Raises Red Flags on Mobile Apps for ShoppingAs consumers, you’ve been warned.

And the same goes for retailers with mobile apps.

A new staff report issued by the Federal Trade Commission finds that many mobile apps for use in shopping “do not provide consumers with important information – such as how the apps manage payment-related disputes or handle consumer data – prior to download.”

The report, “What’s the Deal? An FTC Study on Mobile Shopping Apps,” explored some of the most popular apps used by consumers to comparison shop, collect and redeem deals and discounts, and pay in-store with their mobile devices.

In this new report, FTC staff surveyed a total of 121 different shopping apps across the Google Play and Apple App Stores. The survey included 47 price comparison apps, which let consumers compare prices on a particular item in real-time; 50 “deal” apps, which provide consumers with coupons or discounts; and 45 in-store purchase apps, which enable consumers to use their phones to pay for goods they purchase in physical stores. Several apps were found in more than one category.

“As mobile apps become more central to the shopping experience, it’s important that consumers have meaningful information about how those apps work before they download them,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a news release. “Consumers should not be left in the dark about their potential liability for erroneous or unauthorized charges or about the way shopping apps handle their data.”

The report makes a number of recommendations to companies that provide mobile shopping apps to consumers. To review them, check out the report here.