Savings tip: Prevent overspending on in-app purchases

If you visit Apple’s iTunes store you may notice games categorized three ways – top free, top paid and top grossing. Now here is the really interesting thing – the top grossing games are, in general, free to download.

So how are the games earning enough to be considered “top grossing?” The answer is simple – In-app purchases.

For those unfamiliar, an in-app purchase is when a user spends money within a game to buy extras which can include subscriptions, bonus levels, additional content or virtual money which can be used within the application. Generally a password is required before an in-app purchase can be completed, but if you are not careful they can add up to big bucks, especially if your child is the one playing the games.

So how do you protect yourself and your wallet? Learn to protect your device. While most free apps have an option for in-app purchases, most devices have a way to disable the capability. A quick Google search should reveal results for protecting your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc) and Android devices. When in doubt, you can also visit the app-developer’s website for additional details.

Devices such as the Kindle Fire give you a second line of defense with their FreeTime app which gives parents the opportunity to select which games, books and videos their children are allowed to view, while also restricting in-app purchases and other activities. While there is a subscription for unlimited content available at a cost, it is not required to use the FreeTime app.

If you do find your child has inadvertently made unauthorized in-app purchases, you may be able to contact Apple or your mobile phone provider about a one-time refund.

Has your child ever spent too much on in-app purchases?

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