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Andrew Daniel

Andrew leads our Operational Team and is our expert when it comes to all the ins and outs of car hire excess insurance.

How to prevent In-App Purchases

Don't want your child to run up a massive bill using their smartphone or tablet? You need to turn off In-App purchasing. Here's how to do it.

In a recent report, PhonepayPlus the UK premium rate phone number and service regulator, warns parents to take control of their children's smartphone bills and social media usage.

A PhonepayPlus survey from December 2011 revealed that 66% of children aged 11 to 16 years old owned a smartphone, 78% laptops and 20% tablets. With the iPhone5 and iPad Mini' being two of this Christmas' top 10 presents, those figures can only have risen.

Complaints to PhonepayPlus relating to costs from children and mobile apps increased by 300% in the year from 2010/11 to 2011/12. The report identified several main areas of concern including:

Virtual Currencies: though only 12% of the children surveyed had used virtual currencies like Smurfberries or PlayStation points, over 40% of them had "no idea” or were "a bit uncertain” about how much real money the virtual currency was costing.

In-App billing: where a purchases can be made within the app to pay for extra levels of a game, or to improve the functionality of an application. These were identified as particularly attractive to children. A game, often downloaded free would draw the child in without them realising that they might be charged if they buy additional content or capabilities. 77% of the 300 most popular free applications in the Apple app store featured in-app billing.

Malware: there have been incidents of trojanised versions of popular games like Angry Birds, Assassin's Creed posted on Android app stores. These apps then charged the user £15 every time the app was opened – usually by sending three £5 premium rate texts. After complaints, PhonepayPlus forced the provider of the premium rate service to compensate victims of this fraud.

To turn off In-App billing:

On iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch:

From Settings, choose General, scroll down and select Restrictions and Enable Restrictions. You'll now have to enter and confirm a 4 digit passcode which you'll be asked for to change any restrictions. Now you can slide In-App Purchases to OFF. Alternatively, if you set Require Passwords to "Immediately” you will still be able to purchase In-App but you will be prompted for your passcode on each purchase. Setting this to "15 minutes” allows multiple purchases within 15 minutes of entry of the passcode. This has caused problems with people paying for an App for a child and handing it back, the App then prompts for various chargeable upgrades!

On Android devices:

Open the Google Play Store and select Menu, Settings, User Controls, Set or Change PIN, set the PIN then select the box for Use PIN for purchases.

Another issue for parents is finding gadget cover for gadgets used by school age or younger children. Most insurers have a strict "no under 16′s” rule, but we've found the insurers who will provide gadget insurance for under 16′s.

Author: Andrew Daniel