Does Google Owe You Money for Your Kids’ Unauthorized In-App Purchases?

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a final ruling on a $19 million in-app purchase settlement with Google.

Does Google Owe You Money for Your Kids’ Unauthorized In-App Purchases? Photo (cc) by Rodrigo Ghedin

If your kids made in-app purchases on your Android device without your knowledge, you may soon be hearing from Google.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a final ruling on a $19 million in-app purchase settlement with Google, which was proposed in September.

According to an FTC press release, as part of its settlement over alleged unfair billing practices, Google will soon begin refunding a minimum of $19 million to consumers who were billed for in-app purchases incurred by their children without parental permission. The settlement requires that Google personally contact all consumers who made in-app purchases through the Google Play store and explain to them the refund process.

The FTC alleged that beginning in 2011, Google Inc. billed for in-app purchases without requiring that the user input a password (or any other information). After Google changed its procedure and started requiring a password, the FTC said it failed to notify parents that after typing it in, “it would then open a 30-minute window during which children could make unlimited charges without authorization.”

The FTC said:

The settlement requires Google to provide full refunds of unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children and to modify its billing practices to obtain express, informed consent from consumers before billing them for in-app charges. If the company gets consumers’ consent for future charges, consumers must have the option to withdraw their consent at any time.

Google must spend at least $19 million on refunds over the next year. If it fails to do so, it will be required to pay the remainder of the $19 million to the FTC directly. The FTC will then dole out the refunds to consumers.

Click here to see the final ruling. The FTC brought similar complaints against Apple and Amazon.com this year.

Has your child made in-app purchases without your knowledge? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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