7 ON YOUR SIDE shows how your child's gaming apps can cost you thousands
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
Aaron Blair is normal 11-year-old boy. and like most 11-year-old boys he loves video games, in particular Clash Royale.
When his mom, Kristen, allowed him to download the free game app she didn't know it would wind up causing her to get..in her words ,” depressed. i would have crying jags i was breaking out in hives i had anxiety attacks.” All because the simple little game landed her with a whopping bill of almost 13-thousand dollars.
It started on a weekend at home while Aaron was recovering from a cold.
Blair and her husband let the young boy play on his tablet. A couple days later they got a call from their credit card provider asking if they had charged hundreds of dollars to a Google Play account. When she told them no the card company wiped out the charges, so Blair figured the company would just block any further charges from Google but they didn't.
Without her knowledge, Aaron had opened his own Google account...and over the next three or four days he played Clash Royale and bought fantasy treasure with real money he charged on his mom's credit card.
Blair says she didn't know about the 13-thousand dollars in charges until the credit card company called again. She told 7 On Your Side, “They were going to reverse the charges and i thought that was great, then they changed their mind.”
The Blair's later received an email from the card company saying Maryland law states parents are responsible for the misconduct of a minor in their custody. The company did refund 14-hundred dollars and told the family to seek the rest from Google.
Christine Elgersma is with Common Sense Media, a group that works to inform parents on issues involving internet games and other media aimed at kids. She says parents can request refunds in cases like the Blair's but there is no assurance you will get your money back in full, “It's very easy for kids to make in-app purchases inadvertently without them understanding what they are doing.”
The Federal Trade Commission does say parents aren't responsible for unauthorized charges made by their minor children but Blair says her initial appeals to Google went nowhere.
That's when she called 7 On Your Side, and we contacted Google who told us, "As a one-time-only courtesy, we have provided a refund to Ms. Blair."
“I am very appreciative of 7 On Your Side,” Blair says. The debt was wiped out.
“I shouldn't have asked for a credit card in the first place, Aaron says , “and it's just a game.”
His mom says, “the rule now is there is no electronic usage unless it's necessary for homework."
A few other tips from the Federal Trade Commission to parents: teach children the difference between fantasy and real money, put a passcode on your phone or tablet, and don’t share it with your children. The best defense against unauthorized purchases from your children is to block their ability to make the charge.