‘Free’ iPhone apps can run up big bills
Forums around the web reportedly contain complaints from users that game apps targeted at children have charged hefty fees for unexpected in-app payments, according to a PC Pro news story.
One such app is the game, Tap Zoo. It’s free to download but allows users to buy virtual money for use within the game in order to access extra features or get to the next level faster. But every virtual money purchase costs the user money in real life, via an iTunes in-app purchase.
The value of such in-app purchases is evident from the fact that Tap Zoo ranks in the top five grossing iPhone apps, despite being free to download. Another ‘free’ game that features in the top five grossing iPhone apps is Smurf Village. Which? has found that it, too, has received forum complaints of unexpected bills.
Game apps like Tap Zoo and Smurf Village are often aimed at children, and complaints often come from parents upset that their kids have been able to run up huge bills without sufficient default checks in place to prevent this.
Apple does place clear warnings on its App Store for apps that allow in-app purchases, and recommends users disable in-app purchases on their device if they want to block this feature. However, this relies on users reading the app information.
To avoid the risk of you or your children inadvertently making costly in-app purchases, turn off the ability to make in-app purchases (this feature is turned on by default).
To turn off the in-app purchases feature:
1) Click on the settings icon of your device
2) Select ‘General’
3) Select ‘Restrictions’
4) Click ‘Enable restrictions’
5) Enter a four digit restrictions passcode of your choice
6) Scroll down the screen and switch ‘In-App purchases’ to ‘Off’.
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