Saturday, February 23, 2013

Avoid Unauthorized iTunes Purchases by Adorable Six-Year Old Boys


This morning, I took my six-year old shopping with me. Isn't he a cutie? Well, to keep him busy while I compare prices, I let him play with my iPhone. Since I recently upgraded to the iPhone5, I had zero game apps for my son to play. Hence, I downloaded several free game apps for him to play with while we were in Wal-Mart.

Here's the problem: When I got home, I had three emails from iTunes, thanking me for my recent purchases. My heart started beating fast because I knew that somehow, those "free" game apps had cost me over $40 in stupid upgrades. Worse, I now had to figure out how to fix it. Just how I want to spend my Saturday afternoon.

So how did this happen? Well, once I had entered my Apple ID and downloaded an app, my phone did not ask me again to confirm my Apple ID when I downloaded the next app. I handed the phone over to my six-year old, and he made those purchases without even realizing it. It never once asked him to confirm my Apple ID (which he doesn't know or care about) since I had entered it only a few minutes before.

After several minutes online trying to track down a customer support number, Apple and iTunes refunded the purchases (thank you, Apple and "Jose" who helped me!!!!). In case this happens to you, you will have to fill out the online "contact me" form. They did call me back immediately, and the issue was resolved in less than 5 minutes (though the refund could take up to a week).

Jose told me this refund is a "one-time-only" thing and suggested the following change to my phone so this never happens again:

Require Password--change from 15 minutes to IMMEDIATELY

Though my blog is for book reviews and library ideas, I just had to pass this along. I would have changed this setting before it became a problem if I knew it would cause me such a scare. I'd rather spend that $40 on books or clothes than on stupid in-app upgrades!

Related articles about accidental in-app purchases by children:

The Dangers of Kids and In-App Purchases

Apple iTunes Apps: Beware of Hidden Charges on Children's Games

Parents Sue Apple for In-App and In-Game Purchases Made By Kids

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  1. Lord, I'm glad my kids weren't little in the era of Iphones. Although, those of use whose phones make pocket calls (mostly to sleepy people in different time zones) and spontaneously play driving rock tunes that our families graciously loaded on there unbeknownst to us, could probably end up with similar charges just by jiggling our phones in our bags. And by us, I mean me. I'm resetting my settings. Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Oh, Ann, you are so right! I often wish we could rewind our society back to the "good old days" before all the internet and smart phone stuff--way back in the early 90s. Those were the days!

  3. My oldest child is almost 20, so I avoided a lot of this, but it's also possible to "rewind", at least in your own home. My kids listened to a lot of Fess Parker and Chipmunks records, made calls on a rotary phone, and mow the lawn with a rotary mower, so they can appreciate new technology! (I also outlawed any toys with batteries from the get-go-- I was at home for nine years with them, and the beeping would have driven me over the edge!)

  4. My son (9) did this while staying with grandparents, buying brains in the ZombieFarms game. He saw that they were 10% off and thought he would help himself! Never mind the fact that we NEVER buy the upgrades!! Grrr. We had it refunded, but he's still having to work off his "debt."
    It seems that since we mostly use debit/credit cards these days, kids don't see the exchange of actual money. I remember when I was younger and I told my mom to just write a check...I thought you just made up your own money when you wrote a check!
    This was definitely a lesson for him in money!


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