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Blog Posted in avatar   Andrew Sokolov's Blog

Should You Trust Fancy Reverse Phone Search Apps?

By Andrew Sokolov
Posted Apr 11, 2012 in Technology
If you receive a call from the number not listed in your phone book, you may need to check who that number belongs to before calling it back. It could be a new friend you just met, a debt collector or your doctor's office. And there are actually many situations in which verifying the identity behind a certain number is necessary even if you pretty much have a good guess about the person who might be using it.
So, you instinctively log in on Google, or head on to the Apple iPhone Store or Android Market - depending on your phone model - to search for a free reverse phone lookup. There is an abundance of websites and apps offering phone number lookups nowadays but they are not all alike. In addition, you may do yourself a favor if you will actually take a few minutes to read the fine print before installing and starting to use one of such apps.
As Jennifer Waters reports in her recent article, your cell phone can be "your best friend and a tattletale", at the same time. If you do not take the necessary precautions, you may be sharing your personal information with other people right via some apps you have installed on your phone. For example, she points to a weather app that reserved the right "to record keystrokes"?!
Reverse phone search apps are not an exception either, as it turns out. The famous NumberGuru app has the following statements on the permissions page of its Android version:
Allows the app to read all of the contact (address) data stored on your tablet. Malicious apps may use this to send your data to other people. Allows the app to read all of the contact (address) data stored on your phone. Malicious apps may use this to send your data to other people.
Allows the app to retrieve information about currently and recently running tasks. Malicious apps may discover private information about other apps.
One would wonder why this app needs to have the names and phone numbers stored in your phone book. While most apps might not necessarily abuse your private data, as a general rule, you should be careful about what information you give up to any site or company. Some companies sell information about you to marketers who are aggregating those bits and pieces for a bigger picture of who you are and what you might buy.
And remember, you always have an option to use a mobile version of the site without downloading anything to your phone or tablet.