Over the years, there have been numerous reports of children making purchases on their smart devices without permission from their parents. And every time this happens, the tech companies who run these app stores have faced major criticism. Now, after a 10-year-old went on a $2,500 TikTok spending spree, the parent is placing all the blame on Apple.
The story was detailed in a letter to the U.K.’s Telegraph. The parent, who chose to remain anonymous, explained how their autistic 10-year-old daughter was playing on a new iPhone when she became the victim of a TikTok dancer who tricked her into going on 23 in-app spending sprees. The purchases were only discovered when Apple sent invoices to the parent’s inbox days later. The unhappy parent went through several processes in an attempt to get a refund, but they were refused.
The parent tried to contact the company directly, which included reaching out to Apple’s office in Ireland. Eventually, they were then given a link to the iPhone maker’s legal processes. But this wasn’t very helpful with refunds of in-app purchases or Tik Tok spending sprees. “This is such a lot of money to lose in the space of a few minutes”, the parent wrote in the letter. The parent believes Apple has let him/her down by failing to identify and block the unusual account activity.
Although the Tik Tok spender’s parent feels like Apple’s customer care has been nonexistent, Apple Insider says, the parent didn’t activate any child safety controls on the iPhone before handing it to their kid. These safety measures can prevent spending sprees from ever happening because they limit device functionality. To their credit, the parent has activated the controls on their older iPhone. They simply forgot to do the same on the new model.
Interestingly, after contacting TikTok about the recipient of the child’s $2,500 spending spree, the social media site initially said no rules had been broken. But couldn’t explain what the payment was for. After being implored to dig deeper, the micro-video blogging platform discovered that the verified user had breached guidelines relating to fraud and scams. They also were taking payments in exchange for followers.
As the story goes, TikTok later contacted Apple who agreed to refund the parent for the child’s spending spree. The tech company also reminded them to turn on child safety features on the device. However, the Telegraph said the tech company’s payment system should have measures in place to flag suspicious activity and blocked the payments – similar to anti-fraud measures performed by banks. While it’s a good idea, in theory, it would be difficult to know which purchases are suspicious.
Following the 10-year-old’s TikTok spending spree, investigation, and $2,500 refund, the social media site doesn’t seem to be punishing the scammer (known as Ohidur247) for breaking the rules. While the guilty user has lost the ability to live-stream on the site, the account remains verified and is still active. It’s also worth noting that Apple has no control over banning scammers on third-party applications.