The best Android antivirus apps to protect your phone. Plus: ZipCharge Go is like an emergency gas can for your Tesla. As Avast’s Jakub Vavra put it, these scams “earn a bad actor or actors money while ultimately leaving victims completely empty-handed.” There’s no longer any danger that you’ll be installing one of these specific apps, but it’s possible that you may have installed one in the past. If so, you’ll want to remove it. Here’s how. How to tell whether an app has been removed from the Google Play Store. First, we’ll start with a link to a list that Avast put online detailing all the dodgy apps. The list is searchable: Next to the little magnifying-glass icon at the beginning of the list, plug in the name of any app about which you’re uncertain to see if it’s included.
Google has removed 151 Android applications from the Play Store for being frauds, and you should remove any of these apps from your phone. According to a research published last week by cybersecurity firm Avast, the applications appear to be games, custom keyboards, QR code scanners, and other utilities marketed on TikTok, Instagram, and other social-media sites. However, they sign you up for premium SMS subscriptions that can cost up to $40 per month. These hoax apps have been downloaded over 10 million times in total.
Now hit Enter or Return on your keyboard. If you get an error message saying “We’re sorry, the requested URL was not found on this server,” then that means that Google has removed the app from the Play Store, and you should remove the app from your device. Uninstalling an app on Android is pretty easy. You’ll want to start with the Settings app, which should be listed among your installed apps. On many phones, it’s also accessed by tapping the gear icon visible in the Quick Settings menu you get by swiping down from the top of the screen.
If you do find a matching name, don’t delete the app just yet. Many Android apps have similar or identical names, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right one. Fortunately, Android apps all have unique “package names,” which you’ll see in the third column of Avast’s scam-app list. Package names are how Android tells one app from another. Even better, package names are visible right in the URL, or web address, of each app’s listing page on the Google Play Store. So if you’ve found an app on your phone or Android tablet that you think may be on Avast’s list, then open a new browser tab in a desktop browser and type (or copy-and-paste) this into the new tab’s address bar.
Once in Settings, then tap Apps or Apps & Notifications, then the specific app you want to uninstall. (On some devices, you’ll have to tap a second time to see all installed apps.) On the App Info screen, you should see a button to Uninstall that app. Do that and you’ll get a pop-up asking you to confirm that you really do want to uninstall the app. Click OK and you’re done. Avast’s report said each of these scam apps asks you upon its installation to enter your phone number, including the country code, and sometimes your email address as well, so that the app can “unlock” its stated functions. If any app asks you for such information before it lets you use it, beware. Avast found 151 apps that were part of this campaign, but it’s possible there are still others in the Google Play Store.