Don’t get stung by your kids’ in-app spending

Don’t get gamed by in-app purchases

Children and young people are on their phones, tablets and PCs more than ever before. And as much as we would like them to be working, they are also playing more games. and some are making in app purchases. These allow the player or app user to get further in a game or switch on special features which are not available in a free version of the app.

What can you do if your child has built up a huge bill on your credit or debit card?

Sadly, very little. Because software developers have already put in place safeguards to help to prevent unauthorised purchases from taking place, it leaves parents in a tricky position because there will be the presumption that that they had given their permission. Ultimately, it is unlikely that a Court would rule that a refund should be made because it would open up the floodgates to lots of claims where there is just what’s called “buyer’s remorse”, regret after a payment has been made.

You can contact the bank but no law has been broken and if you say it has then you are complicating matters, potentially implicating your child in theft…! However, if you have an alert service with your bank and it has not alerted you to this expenditure, then you can and should complain about the bank not fulfilling this role.

You can try writing to the CEO ( for contact details) of the company and explain the situation. Going straight to customer services will usually only get you standard responses in this type of case. Going higher up, where fewer people go, may get you some joy. Sometimes a kind person in the executive team may offer some partial refund but bear in mind this is still highly unlikely because they will not want others to know!

child on tablet

How can you protect yourself from your child building up debt on your cards?

1) There are settings in most Apps which ensure that purchases can’t be made without your permission. When your child first downloads a game (or NOW if you haven’t already!) look at all the settings and set them to all the parental controls you can!

2) Do not be afraid to phone or email the company for help with configuring settings!

3) Never give your child your credit or debit card. Stand next to your child and make the purchase yourself. Do NOT click “remember my details for next time”! This way your child cannot make those purchases unwittingly.

4) Contact your bank to see if they have services available to notify you immediately if a purchase more than a certain amount is being made.

5) If you want to give your child some responsibility and to help teach them about money you could give them a pre-paid debit card. This is like a normal debit card but is not linked to a bank account and has a fixed initial balance. Once it’s gone it’s gone!

6) Apple recommends that children are set up on a family sharing account.

They say “This gives parents lots of tools to control how their children are using a device, including app and in app purchases.”

What could be done about preventing in app purchases?

It’s hard because the companies will say that the settings are there to protect over expenditure. There should be some regulation to prevent “clickbait generated” purchases.

What is the Government doing about in app purchases?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is launching a call for evidence into the impact of so-called “loot boxes”. (items within video games that can be purchased or earned where the player does not know what they will get until after the transaction is completed) on in-game spending and gambling-like behaviour later in 2020. They also recently published the Government’s response to the DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies.

Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage, said:

“During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen more people than ever before turn to video games and immersive technology to keep them entertained and to stay in touch with friends and family.

These innovations can present challenges though as well as opportunities, which is why we are taking the necessary steps to protect users and promote the safe enjoyment of this dynamic industry.”

More information on the Government’s announcement can be found here. [8 June 2020]

So be careful out there! Pre warned is pre armed.







All you need to know when you have been refused credit

Credit refusal: know the score and take control

Guest post  by James Jones Experian’s Head of Consumer Affairs

See All you need to know about credit score rating for James’ previous post regarding , myths and how to up your credit score

Credit application refusal

Credit is an important source of additional funding which many of us will need for those large and often expensive projects, such as a house redecoration, a new kitchen or a new car. A credit application may be accepted or may be refused. This article is about what to do when credit is refused.

Credit refusal can be many things: frustrating, annoying, embarrassing, confusing, worrying – to name a few. But one thing it isn’t: uncommon.

Banks and other lenders decline thousands of credit applications every single day. And while access to credit isn’t a right – in that lenders are completely free to set their own criteria and to turn away customers who fail to meet them – you do have a right to be treated fairly.

What to do if your credit application is refused

So, if your credit application is turned down, you should expect the lender’s response to be helpful. For example, they should be able to explain the main reason your application fell short, giving you the opportunity to take action to improve your chances of success next time.

What you certainly want to avoid is panic and speculative applications to other lenders. If there’s a snag, such as a payment hiccup on your credit report you weren’t aware of, submitting multiple applications in the hope one lender will say “yes” is only likely to make matters worse.

If the lender isn’t upfront about the reason, go back and ask. If necessary, get the details of someone who can tell you and contact them. You might, for example, need to write to the head office. But it’s worth persevering because only the lender knows what the issue was and until you find out you’ll remain in the dark. If you’re using a financial adviser or broker then ask him/her to liaise with the lender to obtain the reason for refusal.

After you get the reason, you’ll be in a better position to work out your next move. And this can vary widely depending on issue – which is probably a good moment for us to quickly look at how lenders decide.

How a lender decides whether to give you credit

Most lenders look at three sources of information when assessing a credit application:

  • Your application form – including your job, salary, residential status and bank details
  • Their existing records – if you’ve been a customer of the lender in the past
  • Your credit report – how you’ve managed other credit in the last six years plus any other relevant records, such as county court judgments and past credit checks

Adding up the score

Most lenders will use a computerised scorecard to assess this information, in order to answer the following questions.

  1. What are the chances you’ll meet your repayments?
  2. Can you realistically afford them?

The answer to question 1. is your credit score, which is simply an expression of probability. If your score exceeds the lender’s pass-mark (and you can comfortably afford the repayments) then there’s a good chance of success.

However, alongside these scores, many lenders have policy rules that can individually determine the outcome of your application, irrespective of your score. Here are some examples of factors which lenders may use to set policy rules:

  • Unpaid default or county court judgment
  • Under 18 years old
  • Undischarged bankrupt
  • Income below £x

Action you can take if your credit application is rejected

As you can see from the above, there is a wide range of factors that lenders consider and it is certainly not just a question of whether your application meets the minimum credit score. This is exactly why you should always press the lender for the main reason they said “no”, to help you work out what to do next.

For example, if they tell you your application failed to reach the required credit score, you should ask the lender which credit reference agency (CRA) they used and take the opportunity to order a free copy of your credit report. Then, make sure everything on there is accurate and upto-date and, where available, review the CRA’s guide credit score to get their view on the health of your credit history. If there are no obvious problems, return to the lender with a copy of your credit report and ask them to look at your application again.

You might not know that, by law, if your application was refused solely because of an automated credit score, you can require the lender to review it manually, which means a human being will look over your application. This also gives you the opportunity to send in additional supporting information, including statements showing regular payments, such as council tax.

If the lender tells you the problem was affordability, then take the opportunity to review your spending. Cutting non-essential costs, such as unused gym memberships, or opting for supermarket own brands could help lift your finances into a healthier position and make you a better candidate for credit next time.

Whatever the reason, once you’re in the know you’ll be in a stronger position to either challenge the lender’s decision or improve your situation for the future. You should also consider using a credit-eligibility service, which can help you see which credit products you fit the criteria of before you apply, limiting the prospect of further setbacks.

For more guidance on troubleshooting a credit refusal, check out Experian’s credit refusal interactive guide.

About the author

James Jones

James Jones is Experian’s Head of Consumer Affairs and leads the company’s public education programme, advising people on, for example, credit reports, credit ratings and identity fraud. James is frequently on TV and radio, and regularly answers people’s questions through both traditional media and online via the Experian website, Facebook and Twitter. He began his career at Experian in 1992 after graduating from Cambridge. He loves travel, sport and real ale, and regularly combines all three by following Nottingham Forest and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.