Apple ordered to pay $32.5m for unauthorised in-app purchases

Device maker Apple has agreed to pay $32.5m in refunds to consumers in order to settle a complaint made by the US Fair Trade Commission (FTC). The firm will refund parents who claim the App Store processed sales of in-app purchases made by children without gaining their consent.

The FTC said that it received tens of thousands of complaints from parents about unauthorised in-app purchases made by their children. One complainant reported that her daughter spent $2,600 in one app alone. The body added that the unauthorised in-app purchases made amounted to millions of dollars.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Apple violated the FTC Act by failing to inform parents that by entering their password they were approving a single in-app purchase as well as 15 minutes of additional unlimited in-app purchases that their children could make without any further action from the parent. Charges for in-app purchases generally range from 99c to $99.99, the FTC added.

Apple is also required to change its billing practices and ensure that it has obtained “expressed, informed consent” from customers before charging them for an in app purchase.

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez.  “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorise.”

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