App Store Report a Problem link is back to help fight scams, with two significant improvements

The App Store Report a Problem link was removed years ago, but has quietly returned in iOS 15. It appears that it may be US-only at present.

Apple has also made two significant improvements to the feature …

First, it used to be that you could only report a problem with an app if you had already paid for it. That meant that if you spotted a scam app, there was no way to alert Apple without giving the scammers your money first. Now you can report it without having paid – though you can only report a problem with an app you have installed.

Second, there is now a specific ‘Scam or fraud’ option. That will hopefully mean that Apple acts on those as a priority.

The link is not yet available in all countries. This includes the UK, which tends to be one of the first countries to get access to new features, so that suggests it may be US-only at present.

Additionally, the link doesn’t yet appear to be available for all apps, so it may be something that takes time to propagate across the store.

The fact that you need to have installed an app means that you can’t freely report scam apps that have a one-off purchase cost without first handing over your cash, only those with in-app purchases. In practice, however, the majority of scam apps have in-app subscriptions.

Kosta Eleftheriou tweeted about it, as did Richard Mazkewich.

His tweet suggests that Apple removed the feature to avoid potential liability issues, perhaps afraid that having been alerted to a problem and not immediately removing the app might lead the company to be considered negligent.

There’s no explanation of why Apple has reinstated the link now, but it’s not hard to guess. Scam apps have been coming under increasing scrutiny of late, with Eleftheriou playing no small part in that. The FlickType developer was upset when Apple allowed a scam competitor to his own Apple Watch keyboard app. The scam charged users $8/week for a non-functional app.

Eleftheriou has since made it his mission to draw attention to scam apps on the App Store, pointing out that some were bringing in millions of dollars in revenue, using manipulative approaches and fake reviews. One example was a kid’s game with a hidden casino feature.

The Verge notes how hard it was to report a scam previously.

Until iOS 15, the only way you could find this button was to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Apps or Games tab in the App Store, get kicked out to a website where you’d need to re-sign in. Then you could pick from “Report suspicious activity,” “Report a quality issue”, “Request a refund” or “Find my content.” None of the options offered a clear way to report a scam, and the “Report suspicious activity” would redirect you to Apple Support instead.

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