Senate committee chair grills Apple, Google over protection against crypto app scams

Crypto fraud remains a serious problem, and a key senator wants to make sure app store operators crack down. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown has sent letters to the CEOs of Apple and Google asking for answers on their protections against cryptocurrency app scams. The politician wanted details on their app approval and reporting processes, user alerts for fraudulent activity, coordination with competing stores, and monitoring for apps turning into phishing scams.

We reached out to Apple and Google for comment. Brown gave executives until August 10 to respond to the letters.

Both tech firms offer at least some screening for fake crypto apps. Apple’s App Store review policies prohibit rogue apps, including bait-and-switch tactics. Google is less specific with its Play Store policies, but blocks apps that facilitate illegal activity or “dishonest behavior.” Both companies allow you to report suspicious apps. However, they have not sent direct scam alerts in the past and are not known to actively monitor apps in case they launch phishing scams.

Whatever the attitudes, Brown believed effective safeguards were important. The FBI recently warned that the app-based cryptocurrency scam has already resulted in $42.7 million in losses. It is “imperative” that the deals protect investors from this damage, the senator said.

There is no certainty that the claims will be translated into legislation requiring stricter anti-fraud systems. However, the committee’s request could clarify Apple’s and Google’s stance on the matter and increase pressure to move forward. At the very least, it’s a reminder that an app’s presence on the App Store or Google Play is no guarantee that it can be trusted.

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