Microsoft, like most companies who run an app store, on occasion has problems with fake or malicious apps. You know, the ones that purport to be official, but charge you money upfront without a trial, something even more egregious for already free services.

I have seen a lot of teeth gnashing over this and lots of "look at THIS example!" posts. Even Microsoft has recently chimed in to say they are going to be doing more. But you play a role too.

The problem is not trivial with automated app store submissions these days as a human rarely looks for compliance. If you want humans involved, say goodbye to your two-hour store publishing times, which developers – and users – love. Using Boolean searches and automation for flagging certain apps may seem easy in principle, but the sheer number of variations make it difficult to implement, especially without causing false-positives to pop up for review, angering legitimate developers.

Still, all of my conjecture is beside the point. The best defense against fake store apps is you, and I do not mean just ignoring them. All too often, people just gripe about these apps but they do not talk about how easy it is to grab Microsoft's attention. If you are not occasionally flagging an app for review, you are like a person not clapping at a concert – you assume others are doing the work.

Well, I am going to show you just how easy it is to report an app.

How to report a dangerous or mischievous app on the PC

  1. On the app page for a Windows Phone app that is clearly fake, scroll down until you see 'Report Concern to Microsoft' on the left-hand side and click
  2. Choose from a pre-sorted list of complaints, including Offensive content, Child exploitation, Malware or Virus, Privacy concerns, Misleading app, Poor performance, Inappropriate developer response to my review
  3. For so-called fraud apps, which pretend to be official, 'Misleading app' should be appropriate
  4. Submit

How to report a dangerous or mischievous app on Windows Phone

  1. In Windows Phone 8.1, swipe left to get to Details page
  2. Scroll down and choose 'Report concern to Microsoft'
  3. Choose from a pre-sorted list of complaints, including Offensive content, Child exploitation, Malware or Virus, Privacy concerns, Misleading app, Poor performance, Inappropriate developer response to my review
  4. For so-called fraud apps, which pretend to be official, 'Misleading app' should be appropriate
  5. Submit

As you can see, Microsoft makes the process simple for reporting fraudulent and misleading apps.

Ideally, users do not have to do anything, as everything in the world that is bad is prevented from publishing to the store, while everything good gets through. However, while Microsoft is indeed working to make things better in that regard, it is not enough for users to just ignore their community duty in reporting apps when they find them. It takes just seconds of your time and who knows you may prevent someone from losing money.

Do you report bad or illegal apps to the Windows Phone Store? If so, how often and if not, why not?