The Threat from In-App Purchases and How They Can Cost You - ITS Tactical

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The Threat from In-App Purchases and How They Can Cost You

By Matt Jones

Some of our readers are full time operators and contractors that fight for us and our way of life. Some of our readers are also parents and Imminent Threats come in all shapes in sizes; from physical to electronic.

What I want to touch on today and bring awareness to, are Imminent Threats to your family’s finances. Threats so underhanded they make my blood boil.

Let me explain…

In-App Purchases

I have two boys, ages 9 and 6. Both have an iTouch and they are well used, trust me. Since we’ve had several snow days here in Texas they’ve been getting more use than normal. My youngest son brought me his iTouch because there was a “FREE” game he wanted me to download for him.

Because the downloads are password protected, they have to ask for permission for anything that needs to be downloaded. This allows for two things. First, my wife and I can censor the content that our boys download. Meaning no big boob apps or explicit songs from iTunes. Second, it doesn’t give them free range to buy the “I am Rich” app for $1,000 from the app store.

So being the great Dad I am, I downloaded the free app for my son and he was on his way. A little while later I noticed he left the iTouch out on the kitchen table, being naturally curious, I picked it up and noticed there was a pop-up for an in-app purchase. “Buy a bucket of stars!” $99.99.  What!?

That’s right, the in-app purchases on your kids iTouch can rack up some big bills. I saw a report today in the news that a 6-year-old little girl spent $1400 in 10 minutes.

What you Can Do

Here’s how you fix it.  The process is extremely simple. Got to Settings => General => Restrictions => Enter Pin => Enable Restrictions => Turn In-App Purchase OFF!

You’ll also notice that you can tighten the reins of censorship from your child such as YouTube, installing Apps, locations services and explicit content from music or podcasts.

Hopefully this article will help our parents out there to avoid future headaches and sore throats from yelling.

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  • Ken

    Yikes! Going to have to check on my android market to see if there is something similar since I let my nephew play with my phone quite often. Good heads up for sure!

  • John

    Actually, when you do an in-app purchase, that is tied to your iTunes account and you must re-authorize to purchase by entering your password. Also you can now set up an iTunes account without any form of payment attached to avoid inadvertently spending anything above free.

  • Andrew

    Another option is to remove any credit card data from the ipod/phone etc. That way you can’t purchase anything without the password and the credit card info. It takes a little while longer, but is much safer.

  • 3 zero

    The way i keep everyone at home from buying excess stuff, is by buying Itunes gift cards instead of using my credit card. It also helps if you get hacked, i’d rather lose a couple of bucks than a grand.

  • Wayne K.

    Some readers may not know how to “go to settings”. I’m one. How?

    • boot_heel

      To find the settings on the iPhone, it is displayed much like any other App you have on the home screen. Depending on how you’ve rearanged your Apps, the setting button should be towards the beginning, and it’s icon looks like a little gear/sprocket and it says “settings” underneath it. Now you can just press on it like any other app, and a list of various settings will appear. Scroll down to the “General” listing and it will open up a whole new list and then scroll down to restrictions and so on until the phone prompts you to enter a restrictions password. If you have never had any restrictions on, you will need to make a new pasword and remember what it was as it will limit what you can do on your phone. If the restrictions are on then somebody has already put a password on the restrictions and your out of luck (which isn’t likely). From here it’s fairly simple. Just remember that you can’t mess your phone up by pressing a few buttons as you can always go back and change it once you have. That’s what I did when I got my phone because the owners manual was so small.

      Hope this helps,

    • Tim

      Settings for the iPhone can be found on your home screen. After unlocking your phone just press the circle button at the bottom of the phone to go back to that screen (if you’re already on it you’ll be taken to the search page, just scroll right one page.) Settings is usually on this page near the bottom. It looks silver with some gears as the icon.

    • John

      Settings is an app on the homescreen of your iPhone. Just tap that and you’re in “Settings”.

  • Mason

    This is why whenever I want to buy something on the App Store I simply buy an iTunes gift card.

  • viscara

    Totally agree with you on your points. Especially of the reasons why your blood boils. I have to to look out for my “Less Computer Savvy” friends and elderly uncles and family members. I have seen 2 family members get identities stolen and as well as credit card fraud. The blatant abuse is astounding these days when it comes to electronic fraud and how its allowed to happen with little help to deal with the aftermath. Great post thank you.

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