PSA: This is how easy it is for your kids to make in-app purchases, even when purchases are password protected [VIDEO]


Marvel Run Jump Smash in-app purchases

Earlier today, we told you guys about a New York woman suing Google over their lax 30-minute window that made it possible for her children to purchase $65 worth of in-game content after she only authorized a single purchase. It’s a pretty strange loophole, one many Android fans, let alone less tech savvy parents, probably weren’t even aware of until today.

To further illustrate how easy it can be for a child to make in-app purchases after their parent has just purchased an app or game — even if the Google Play Store is set to password restrict purchases — we decided to make our own video. If you’ve checked out some of the countless freemium games in the Play Store, you’d know that more than often, they make it exceptionally easy to purchase additional game content that runs anywhere from $1 – $100 (depending on the game).

Now, we’re not saying this lady is in the right for going after Google. We’ll let the courts decide that. What we hope to do is simply get the word out before anyone hands off their phone or tablet to their kids after they’ve just made a quick Google Play purchase. The more you know…

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Wow I had no idea. I buy apps and then hand my phone right to my kids to play the new game or whatever. I always assumed they wouldn’t be able to make any in app purchases without my password since I have the play store setup to ask for my password every time. I guess I got lucky. Thank you thank you thank you!

  2. She shouldn’t get more than a refund of the $66 dollars the kids spent.

  3. What about purchase app, install then reboot phone… Do you still have a 30 min window even after a reboot?

  4. Someone looking to take advantage of this “feature” would publish an app that sells for $0.01 (requiring password authorization), then offer in-app purchases in the hopes that unwitting parents would then hand the device over to their kids, who would then be allowed to make in-app purchases for the 30 minute window following the authorized $0.01 purchase. But there aren’t any developers like THAT, are there?

    1. hopefully they’d be outed in the review section after the first few parents caught on.

      1. I don’t think they would be… at least not any more so than has already been the case when this has happened. The developer has no control over the existence of the window, but the $0.01 provides for minimal hesitation on the buyer’s part, yet still opens the window.

        But as Chris says in the video, knowing is half the battle.

    2. Can you charge $0.01? I thought $0.99 was the minimum?

      1. You can when Google has sells I know for a fact

  5. Those parents should use Play cards as a funding source rather than their credit card. I have kids and this does work. When they spend the card’s limit they know they are done and there is no way to abuse. Think smart people.

    1. That’s a great solution for the few countries that support them. We need a global solution.

      1. Great point. I didn’t think about that factor. But the lawsuit in question is based on a US customer which would have had been able to use one.

    2. I had a separate account for years simply for this reason. If I wanted something more than the $50 I kept in the account, I would just transfer it over.

      This allowed be to feel safeguarded against any possible theft or account hijacking. Then I realized I was wasting my time

  6. I had no idea about this. Hopefully some changes will come for the future. More importantly at the moment, is that a huge Koopa backpack? Want.

  7. I don’t care what people say, this is negligence on the woman’s part. Educate your God damn kids about these things! There is no excuse! It is 2014 and this is nothing new. My God, can NOBODY take responsibility for their actions these days?! Disgusting world we live in.

    1. Who peed in your corn flakes this morning? LOL. Anyway, you don’t have kids, do you? You go and try to “educate” a 3-4 year old on “these things”. Let’s see how far you get.

      1. Simple, don’t give them the device. Give them a book to read instead.

        1. LOL, troll is a troll

        2. This guy said give them a book to read…..OK..give em a book to read…on a tablet!!!!lmao

          1. seriously, i have to agree with the troll. there’s a thing called picture book. there’s also pop-up books. building blocks, cars, etc…… plenty of things that parents can do for the kids. i know coz that’s why i do.

      2. A smartphone is not a babysitter. Neither is a tablet. How about paying attention to your kids instead of throwing an electronic device in their face to shut them up for a couple hours? This lady deserves the $65 charge for being a crappy parent.

        1. You have no idea what it’s like to be a parent, do you?

          1. I do have two children under 10, and I have no sympathy for this woman, or the countless number of parents that go on vacation to a foreign country and let their kids use their smartphones then complain when they get their cell bill.

            People need to educate themselves. If you’re going to let your child use your smartphone or tablet, the last thing that you should do is leave your credit card tied to your account. I have my purchases password protected, yet I still delete my credit cards when I’m done.

  8. Simple solution? Only use pre-paid cards from Google Play… or in a pinch, remove your account from the device after installing the app. That’s what I do with my kids.

  9. The simple solution is that Apple and both Google just need to make sure a password and then a 4 digit pin is used to download any app or to purchase any in app additions everytime! – non of these silly 20/30min free windows.

    1. Yeah, it can be restricted to ask EVERY TIME on iOS, but not on Android (yet).

  10. interesting. what about a FREE game with in-apps purchase.

    could someone download the free game, then initiate the in-apps purchase during the 30minutes?

    1. No. Only when you’ve entered your password will the 30-minute window become active.

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