There has been a rash of stories lately about kids racking up charges on their parents’ iTunes account through in-app purchases.
Most recently, a 5-year-old boy in the UK managed to spend a whopping $2,500 in a mere five minutes on his parents’ dime. He was playing a game called Zombie vs. Ninja and just kept purchasing add-on options, oblivious to the cost.
Apple agreed to refund the charges. But with these digital kids learning passwords, downloading apps and freely making purchases, they can wreak havoc on credit card bills and parental sanity when they unknowingly make these online impulse buys. If this has happened to you, Apple recently announced that it will pay to settle a lawsuit over what are deemed as “bait apps,” where the app downloads are free, but are riddled with sneaky in-app offers that kids can be tempted into buying.
The settlement is still in the initial phase and being proposed for approval, but if it passes, parents will be eligible for the following:
• If your child has charged more $5 or less, you will receive a $5 credit to your iTunes account
• If your child has charged between $5 and $30, you will receive an iTunes credit for that amount
• If the amount is above $30, you will receive a cash refund
Obviously, to be privy to any of these refunds, you have to explicitly state that it was indeed your child who made the purchase and that you did not provide the password for him to do so. If this proposal is accepted by a federal court, Apple will begin to accept claims for these “bait app” charges and will be likely to pay out in 2014.
There is no way to know how many refunds Apple will have to make, but according to GigaOm’s description of the proposed settlement, Apple will notify “over 23 million iTunes account holders” who may be eligible based on game purchase history.
It seems unreal to think of a 5-year-old causing such financial damage in so little time, but it definitely is possible. For your sake and the sake of your bank account, make sure you change those passwords frequently and set those parental controls in iTunes!
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