twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Parents Beware: Some 'Free' Kids' iPhone Apps Are a Scam

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Natalie Martinez-Brown:Call me crazy, but I decided to give my son my iPod Touch after I graduated to an iPhone.

He was given explicit instructions to only download free games. He would do the app shopping, and when he found something he liked, I would verify that it was free and age-appropriate, and then I would enter my iTunes password. I noticed that the iPod kept asking me to enter my password over the next couple of days. I thought this was strange, but I did it a few times, thinking perhaps I had an upgrade pending. Imagine my surprise when I received an iTunes invoice for $21.23!

Among the charges:

  • "Zombie Farm, Gravestone" -- $0.99

  • "Zombie Farm, 10 Brains" -- $6.99

  • "Toy Story 3, Woody's Wild Ride" -- $0.99

  • "Tap Fish, Bundle of 150 Fish Bucks" -- $4.99

  • "Tap Fish, Bundle of 150 Fish Bucks" -- $4.99

  • I verified that the games were, in fact, free. They were -- but those three "free" games ultimately cost me $18.95! (Some purchases were not listed above.) According to my iTunes account, these are "in-app purchases" -- non-free items used while playing their "free" games. My son bawled his head off when confronted, swearing that he didn't do anything that wasn't free. For once, I believed him.

    Given the number of times my iPod Touch asked me to enter my password,it seems these apps were trying to get access to my account to complete these unwanted purchases. The worst offender, in my opinion, is Disney, who is clearly targeting kids with their "free" "Toy Story 3" app. Kids may unwittingly purchase in-app features, thinking they are playing a free game! I'm sure Disney will point to their Terms of Use or End User Agreements, but what adult -- let alone CHILD -- reads those?! Disney has been marketing to kids for years, but this is a new low in my opinion.

    Here's how to make sure this doesn't happen to you!

    How to disable in-app purchases:

    1. Go to "Settings."
    2. Click on "General."
    3. Click on "Restrictions."
    4. Click on "Enable Restrictions."
    5. This will prompt you to choose a 4-digit PIN/password; reenter.
    6. Scroll down to "In-App Purchases" and slide to "Off."

    Now your in-app purchases will be disabled, your free apps will be free again and you can give the iPod Touch back to your kid (maybe). This of course will not prevent others from being taken advantage of, so use your social-networking skills to create awareness about this very sneaky business practice!

    Pass this on, write a negative review on iTunes (I did), tweet and FB your hearts out. Tell them that you are sick of being nickled-and-dimed, and that it's deplorable to target kids.

    next: Babies with Syphilis?
    75 comments so far | Post a comment now
    porcelana December 12, 2010, 1:29 PM

    Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down… Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

    wczasy w bułgarii December 12, 2010, 5:11 PM

    Keep up the good work. Everyone is opened to there opinion. Excellent blog here, i am still reading

    Agnes Irey December 14, 2010, 3:37 PM

    Fairly good submit. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve truly loved reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you publish once again soon!

    Jayne December 21, 2010, 9:23 AM

    good article – looking forward to Part 2.

    Instalacje elektryczne December 21, 2010, 8:20 PM

    Heyy – I should say, I sure am happy with your website. I had no trouble navigating via all of the tabs and the information was really easy to gain access to. I discovered what I wanted in no time at all. Pretty awesome. Thank s alot!

    kasetony podświetlane December 21, 2010, 8:45 PM

    it was very interesting to read. I want to quote your post in my blog. It can? And you have an account on Twitter?

    Rolland Gartley December 23, 2010, 1:17 PM

    Very useful website. Thank you, have a nice day!

    Projekt Domu December 30, 2010, 7:43 AM

    Nice Blog! Visit my site also!

    dieta anului 2011 January 3, 2011, 5:28 AM

    I have been searching the google for this information and i wanted to thank u for the post. By the way, just off topic, how can i download a version of this theme? – Thanks

    Phil January 6, 2011, 2:47 AM

    Your joking, right?

    Owen January 7, 2011, 4:33 AM

    Bookmarked your website. Thank you for sharing. Definitely worth the time away from my workload.

    loreal for dark hair color January 15, 2011, 12:34 AM

    The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect.

    Issac Vanduyn January 15, 2011, 11:40 PM

    *Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    Arch Window Treatments January 16, 2011, 9:59 PM

    You’ve made some good thoughts there. I did a web search on the issue and found on the whole people will be of the same opinion with your site. Thanks once more for putting this up. I unquestionably enjoyed every part of it.

    Casey January 20, 2011, 1:08 PM

    Agreed. These applications will require a password upon purchasing in-app items for these games. That is why it is up to the parents to be responsible and set restrictions on their devices to prevent these kids from “Accidentally” purchasing these items.

    Lionel Weinman January 20, 2011, 5:43 PM

    I don’t agree with it, kudos to you for taking the time to come up with it

    Alan Safdeye January 21, 2011, 6:47 AM

    I cant say Im in complete accordance, kudos to you for taking the time to come up with it

    Anonymous January 21, 2011, 10:04 AM

    Pamela, you are a complete jerk. It is not obvious to a little kid. Little kids are not legally able to charge things for good reason. This is a scam pure and simple, targeting and the Zombie Farm guys are laughing all the way to the bank until Apple does something.

    This could undermine Apple’s entire reputation

    Christie Defayette January 21, 2011, 11:31 AM

    I cant say Im in complete accordance, many thanks for showing the initiative to come up with it

    Wen Arriola January 21, 2011, 9:25 PM

    Lovely post, kudos to you for taking the time to think of it

    Back to top >>