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How to protect yourself against unwanted app charges

Because nobody wants to be greeted with a large bill at the end of the month.

Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

IT’S ONE OF the biggest fears when you give your child your phone. With the abundance of games and services out there that are free to download, many of them offer in-app content to buy which can catch many people out.

While most of us are pretty savvy when it comes to parting with cash, if you have children, you would be quite aware of the dangers of purchases being made without your knowledge.

While there are safeguards in place, it’s worth taking action and ensuring that no unwanted bills end up making their way to you. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Which apps should you be wary of?

While technically all free apps fall under this category, the biggest culprits are usually games. The majority of these are free to download, but offer in-app purchases in the form of extra lives, additional resources, unlockables and other content. Many engineer the game so that it’s very difficult to progress without investing some money into the game.

It’s better in the long run to pay for a game outright since the majority won’t contain in-app purchases and you will use less money in the long-run.

Top Grossing apps The top grossing apps list is one you should be especially wary of since the majority of them contain in-app purchases. Source: Google Play

Turn off grace period

For iPhone users, once you enter in your password to download an app, a 15 minute grace period activates meaning within that period, you can download additional apps without having to enter it again.

This also extends to in-app purchases and is the feature that catches many parents out. For iPhone users, you can deactivate it by going into settings > general and restrictions and halfway down the page, you will see require password section which lets you change this.

Android owners will have to create a new account for their child under ‘users’ which is found in settings while Windows Phone users have Kid’s Corner.

Turn off in-app purchases completely

A better option for those who want to play it safe, all settings allow you to deactivate in-app purchases completely so there’s no chance of you getting stung by unwanted costs.

  • To activate this on iPhone, go into settings and then into general. Here you will find the restrictions section which, after entering your pin or password, allows you to turn off in-app purchases.
  • Windows Phone users are better off using Kid’s Corner which allows parents to control what apps and games their children are able to access, and it turns off in-app purchases completely.
  • Android doesn’t allow you to completely turn off in-app purchases, but you can set a PIN or password instead  you have to go into Google Play and access settings within the store. You will find unlock settings (if it’s greyed out, you will need to set a PIN code which you’ll find further down) and from there, you can activate ‘Require password for purchases’ which is exactly how it sounds.

iOS IAP Source: TheJournal.ie

Don’t reveal your password

All purchases require a password so it goes without saying that unless you trust your child not to use it, it’s best not to reveal it to them.

If you have Windows Phone, activate Kid’s Corner.

If you own a Nokia Lumia, then turning on ‘kid’s corner,’ which prevents them from accessing certain apps and features, is a must. The feature prevents in-app purchases.

Kid’s Corner can be found in settings, but remember that the mode is turned off once the power button is hit, so make sure you have a PIN in place (if you haven’t already).

Kids corner Source: TheJournal.ie

Opt for a gift card

If you wish to give your child some funds to purchase without them going overboard, considering buying a gift card and fund purchases through this instead of your credit or debit card. This will keep spending habits in check and ensure you know exactly where your money is going.

Read: Why you should be using two-step verification for all your accounts >

Read: Why you need IFTTT in your life right now >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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