Apple’s App Store stopped more than $2 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2022

In a recent news release, Apple announced that it had prevented more than $2 billion worth of fraudulent transactions from taking place on its App Store in 2022.

The company said that, throughout 2022, it had rooted out 428,000 developer accounts and 282 million customer accounts for fraud and abuse. Plus, the company also rejected nearly 1.7 million app submissions for failing to meet the App Store’s high standards for privacy, security and content. Let’s take a look at the findings in greater detail.

Account fraud

Over the past few years, Apple has vastly improved the way in which it monitors and detects account fraud. As a result, in 2021, it terminated over 802,000 developer accounts after spotting potentially fraudulent activity.

The figures show that, in 2022, this number declined to 428,000. The company says this is because it has developed new methods and protocols that allow the App Store to prevent the creation of potentially fraudulent accounts.

Plus, the company adds that nearly 105,000 Apple Developer Program enrolments were rejected for suspected fraudulent activities. This means that bad actors were stopped before they could submit apps to the App Store.

Added to this, in 2022, Apple protected users from nearly 57,000 untrustworthy apps from illegitimate storefronts, which do not have the same built-in privacy and security protections as the App Store. These unauthorised marketplaces distribute harmful software that can imitate popular apps or alter them without the consent of their developers.

Finally, Apple also says that it disabled over 282 million customer accounts associated with fraudulent and abusive activity in 2022 and it blocked a further 198 million fraudulent new accounts before they could be created.

App review

Apple makes a number of safety checks on each app before it reaches the App Store. For example, during the development stage, Xcode systematically inspects apps to certify they are using authorised technologies and to make sure the app meets minimum requirements for the App Store.

Then, once a developer uploads their app to App Store Connect, additional checks are run to verify that the app does not reference private APIs and is free of known malware. Each submission is reviewed individually to ensure it meets Apple’s standards of quality and safety.

As you may expect, the review process has evolved over time. Now, the App Review team reviews over 100,000 app submissions a week, and nearly 90% of these are reviewed within 24 hours.

Last year, Apple received more than 6.1 million app submissions and the App Review team helped more than 185,000 developers publish their very first app on the App Store. They also made over 20,000 phone calls to developers to help them diagnose and resolve issues that led to an app submission rejection.

Apple says that nearly 1.7 million app submissions were rejected from the App Store for various reasons in 2022. The most popular reasons included:

  • Concerns relating to fraud and privacy
  • The use of malicious code
  • Bait-and-switch violations
  • Creating spam, copycats and misleading apps
  • Apps containing hidden and undocumented features

Added to this, Apple also notes that the App Review team also investigates any apps that are reported through the ‘Report a Problem’ tool. If a team member finds an app is fraudulent or malicious, it is immediately removed from the App Store.

Plus, unapproved apps under a developer account that has been terminated for fraud and abuse are automatically removed and prevented from being submitted onto the App Store. Thanks to this feature, the App Review team took action to prevent nearly 84,000 potentially fraudulent apps from reaching users on the App Store in 2022.

Ratings and reviews

Similarly, Apple also detected and blocked more than 147 million fraudulent ratings and reviews from the App Store last year.

The company believes that inauthentic ratings and reviews from fraudulent or bot accounts can mislead users into downloading an untrustworthy app that attempts to game the system through misrepresentation. In 2022, with over 1 billion ratings and reviews processed, Apple blocked and removed more than 147 million ratings and reviews for failing to meet moderation standards.

Payment and credit card fraud

Finally, Apple estimates that the company blocked a record $2 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2022. As part of this, the company banned 714,000 fraudulent accounts from transacting again.

The company has taken a number of steps to prevent payment fraud and endeavours to keep customers safe at every turn. For example, with Apple Pay, credit card numbers are never shared with merchants. This eliminates a risk factor in the payment transaction process.

Last year, Apple also blocked nearly 3.9 million stolen credit cards from being used to make fraudulent purchases, and banned 714,000 accounts from transacting again.

Why does this matter?

As the digital economy continues to expand and grow, more and more people are purchasing goods and services online. However, while companies such as Apple are developing secure payment technologies like Apple Pay to protect people’s financial information, bad actors are also evolving their dishonest tactics and methods of deception. Due to this, major technology firms must continue to develop new approaches and tools designed to prevent fraud from occurring.

The figures in Apple’s latest release show us that fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more widespread. However, it’s reassuring to see that the technologies created by Apple have stopped more than $2 billion in fraud.

Overall, these figures now show us the real scale of e-commerce. After all, the App Store is used by 650 million people per week and it provides more than 36 million registered Apple developers with a global distribution platform that supports more than 195 local payment methods and 44 currencies. In such an environment, trust and security is paramount. Apple’s steps towards winning the war against fraudsters are welcome, but businesses of all sizes must do more to ensure customers are safe online.

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