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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

BBB Tip of the Week: Exercise caution when using Pokémon GO

Veronica Craker BBB columnist

By now you’ve probably heard about the latest craze to sweep the nation. Pokémon GO has attracted millions of users since it went live July 6. In just a few days it became the most downloaded app next to Twitter and SnapChat. While the game was designed for fun, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest warns about some possible dangers that could arise while playing the game.

Sharing private information. There is some concern for users who sign in with a Google account. The Android version of the game only allows access to limited data (such as the user’s email address), but the iOS version for the iPhone can access all Google data. Niantic, the game’s maker, says no personal information has been accessed, and it is issuing a bug fix to correct the problem. It’s best to create an account through the app itself rather than using a personal email address.

Added expenses. Users can play for free using “PokéCoins,” but coins can also be purchased through the app. The longer you play the more spending money is required to “train” gathered characters. There’s also the additional data that will be used as the app requires constant GPS access. Be careful how long you play so you aren’t surprised with a hefty bill at the end of the month. T-Mobile has announced it will give unlimited data to Pokémon Go users for a year beginning July 19.

Play it safe. A Missouri police department reported robbers using a secluded “PokéStop” location to rob unsuspecting game players. Use caution when playing the game by avoiding private property and not straying too far from public settings, and be sure to obey all traffic laws.

Possible malware. So far, the app is only available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, which has given cybercriminals an opportunity to capitalize on the demand. A malware version of the game has been found online, although no known infections have been reported. Users should only download the app through official app stores, not third-party sites.

Veronica Craker, BBB