Watch Out for Those In-App Purchases, They Add Up Fast

10 year old spends over $100 in one week for in-app purchases on iTunes.  Ironically, that $100 was used to purchase brains, approximately 100 Zombie Farm brains.

Zombie FarmImagine getting a statement from your bank that your account has been put on alert and to please call and verify recent purchases.  When I called to verify customer service  mentions an iTunes purchase in the amount of $42.11.  Hmmm… that doesn’t sound right.  So, I begin asking questions.  I find out the purchase was made last night at 1:00 a.m.  (I know I was asleep) Another charge follows in the amount of $43.24.  By the time we go through the charges made in the last few days, the total is $112.28.  What!?!


I narrow my list of suspects until only one is left, my son.  Did I mention these were in-app purchases?

Yes, $112.28 of iTunes in-app purchases in less than a week.  Both of my kids are on my iTunes account, but I am the only one with the password.  Before I report false charges I tell her I will have to call her back. I have a suspicion of who may have done this, but I am not certain how.

My son has asked me several times to take him to the store to buy iTunes gift cards this week.  Now I know why.

If only I had read this article from Mashable a few days before, “Apple Changes In-App Purchase Policy to Protect Parent’s Credit Cards“.

In-App purchases are  added onto addicting games and allow you to purchase items which help you advance.  In my son’s case, instead of waiting several days for zombie brains to harvest on the farm, you have the option of buying them.  Getting ahead in the game is very important to my son and I am sure that 10 zombie brains for $.99 seems like a bargain.  Unfortunately, as he found out, it does add up quickly.  It was a good and expensive lesson to learn.

Zombie Farm

Remember how I mentioned that he did not have access to my password?  I didn’t understand how he could have purchased all that without asking me for my password.

If you ever wonder how some of these “free” addictive games make money, think In-App Purchases.  Remember those brains my son purchased?  If he would have needed me to put in my password every time he purchased brains, I would have realized what was going on and put a stop to it.  I am pretty sure the developers had this in mind when they decided to make it easier for those that use In-App Purchases.  So, they disabled the need to re-type your password every time you make an In-App Purchase if you purchase an item within the first 15 minutes of purchasing the game.  Apparently, it doesn’t take long for kids to learn this trick and pass it on to their friends.

After my son handed over $120 to pay me back I took his iTouch for awhile.

But before I returned it, I used my Zombie Brain and disabled his In-App Purchase ability.  If you have kids on an iTouch or iPhone, I  highly recommend you do the same.

One more reason I recommend keeping an eye on your child’s account.

To disable In-App Purchases on an iTouch, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

Cammie Moise

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1 comment to Watch Out for Those In-App Purchases, They Add Up Fast

  • This happened to me as well. I called Verizon and they were able to turn off all downloads on my son’s phone so that it did not happen again.