ACCC targets apps for kids that end in big bills

A CONSUMER crackdown on apps targeting young children with unauthorised online purchases has begun in Australia as part of an international operation.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is leading Australian efforts to protect children using apps that claim to be free, but do not disclose "significant in-app purchases" that are needed to use the programs.
Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said consumers needed to be aware "free may not mean free".

"Games and apps in the 'free' area of an online store may be free to download but attract costs for in-app purchases," she said.

"Some of these apps are marketed for children, who do not connect the game they are playing with spending their parents' money in the real world."

Ms Rickard said the commission was contacted by parents caught out with IT used by their children and "racking up a sky-high credit card bill".

"A child can unwittingly make one in-app purchase costing $100 or 100 in-app purchases costing $1 each," she said.

The commission advised parents to ensure they set passwords restrictions on online devices, and knew how to control them.

Other tips include:

  • Consider disabling in app purchases for devices used by children
  • Consider downloading apps for parental control of smart devices
  • Get to know the technology your kids are using and the games they are playing
  • Consider switching the internet off on your device when children are using it
  • Use gift cards instead of credits cards