Countless parents have been in this situation where their kids rack up insane amounts of in-app purchases, often digital currency, paid for by real money charged to the parents’ accounts. Certain bait apps exist in both the App Store and Google Play Store which entice users, games gear this towards kids, to make in-app purchases. Such apps are often free, but offer items as expensive as $99.99. A woman from New York has filed a lawsuit against Google after her five year old son spent $65.95 on “Crystals” using a Samsung Galaxy tablet, a digital currency utilized in Marvel Run Jump Smash! game.
The problem here is a 30 minute window which opens up after the account owner authorizes an app or in-app purchase. So if parents purchase one item for their children and then hand over the device to them, the children can continue to make purchases for 30 minutes without requiring consent or credentials. Apple has already been sued against a similar 15 minute window, it paid $5 million to settle the case last year and was subsequently fined $32.5 million by the FTC and ordered to change in-app purchases billing procedure until March 31st.
However, there exists the possibility that the mother might be at fault. While users can’t do this on an iOS device, the Google Play Store allows account owners to restrict purchases by setting up a password. The option to do this is present in the Play Store’s settings menu, turning “use password to restrict purchases” on will ensure that no app or in-app purchase is made without the password being punched in. Google Play restricts all purchases with password by default, so its possible that the mother could have disabled it herself.