Kitchener, ON - February 28, 2014. As digital media evolves into the prominent cultural medium for human communication, it is important to remind ourselves of the dangers attributed to obtaining digital content. Consumers must be weary that accidental clicks, taps, and swipes, could result in significant charges to their telephone and wireless accounts.
There has been a recent rise in unauthorized or accidental “in-app” purchases, which can result in charges to consumers without their knowledge and permission. In-app purchases involve charges to obtain additional digital content or enhancements as part of an existing application (app).
On February 25, 2014, The Competition Bureau released the following five tips in an effort to protect consumers (particularly parents and their children) against unintentional or unauthorized ‘in-app’ purchases:
1. Check for in-app purchases
Verify the apps you or your child are downloading, and any extra costs that may be associated with that particular app. Even if an app is advertised as "free", it may offer in-app purchases through updates, advertisements, or push notifications. Familiarize yourself with the app by reviewing its description, age rating, and user reviews. Consider monitoring your child while they play the game, just as you would for any online activity.
2. Protect your password
Exercise caution when sharing your password or PIN – even if it is to download a "free" app. Entering your password or PIN can trigger a purchase, resulting in a charge to the credit card or alternate payment method linked to your app store account.
3. Turn off in-app purchases
Some mobile devices have the ability to block in-app purchases. Read the user’s manual for your device to review your settings. You may also be able to set up parental controls to prevent in-app purchases. On certain platforms, it might be wise to determine an individual allowance for your children to avoid unauthorized expenses.
4. Turn on airplane mode
The “airplane mode” on your mobile device is not only for use when travelling. Use airplane mode to allow access to apps, but not to make any other downloads or purchases.
5. Remember that your mobile device is a payment platform
View your mobile device as a payment mechanism similar to a credit card. You would not give your credit card information to anybody without oversight or supervision. Monitor your bills for unfamiliar charges from app stores, and ensure any charges that appear were authorized accordingly.
BBB encourages anyone who may have been misled by representations made in an app to contact The Competition Bureau. They can be reached at 1-800-348-5358 or by visiting www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.