IOS Purchases You Don’t Remember?

Mar 14, 2014

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Have you ever looked at your credit card statement and noticed a charge from iTunes that you don’t remember? I have, this has happens to me more than I like to admit.  Usually the charge been something simple like 99 cents and I just assume that I let one of my kids buy and app or song and I forgot about it from 3 weeks ago.  But there might be more to the story.

The Federal Trade Commission is pushing Apple with a lawsuit to reimburse some of these transactions due to a perceived flaw in their “purchase protection” technology in IOS devices.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/01/23/2014-01197/apple-inc-analysis-of-proposed-consent-order-to-aid-public-comment

Here is the basic run down of the flaw. 

When you setup your IOS device and login to your iTunes account you are given an option to “always remember” your iTunes password or to choose ”prompt for a password” for purchases. Many people that are setting up a device for their kids don’t want to get a 2000 dollar bill, paying for “Farmville accessories” or “Clash or Clans reinforcement troops”, so we simply set this to “prompt for password.”

The potential problem, is that Apple does not warn you that after entering your password, your credentials authorizing a purchase will be cached for 15 minutes by default. This means that when your daughter hands you her iPad and you type in your password so she can purchase her 99 cent song, you can hand it back to her and she can now go on a 15 minute shopping spree without needing a password.

You can see how this might be a problem with things like in-App purchases. Some of these applications are constantly prompting you to purchase “Smurf Berries” or “Minion Bananas”, and an unsuspecting toddler could easily tap the option and “poof” there goes five dollars on iTunes.

While Apple and the FTC figure out if Apple is truly responsible and if they will actually return your money related to these kinds of charges, there is a simple fix. You can force apple to require a password for every purchase all the time.

To do this on your IOS device:

Go to Settings—General—Restrictions and enable restrictions, then under restrictions go to the “Allowed  Content” section, and change “Require Password” to always.

My guess is that in the future Apple might make this a default setting, for but for now it will save you the extra money you might lose when your kids buy their “extras” that you might be unaware of.