Parents warned of huge costs from apps [Herald, The (Scotland)]
(Herald, The (Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Complaints about children accessing smartphone apps increased 300% in a year, with the potential for parents to be hit with huge bills, a regulator has warned.
Figures suggest 63% of 11 to 16-year-olds have downloaded free apps on to their phones, according to PhonepayPlus, the UK regulator of premium-rate telephone services.
However, parents who do not talk to their children about what they spend on smartphones can find themselves responsible for bills of "hundreds or even thousands of pounds", according to its report, Children as Connected Consumers.
The report highlights two areas of particular risk: free apps and social media linked to smartphones.
It found the risks of so-called free services, particularly malware that charges the phone without the user's consent and in- app billing for "extras", were especially risky.
In one case, children downloaded fake free versions of popular games, such as Angry Birds, from the Android store. A charge of pound(s)15 was then added to the bill every time the app was opened.
The report highlighted cases on social media, including one when children aged 12 to 14 were tricked into "sharing" and "liking" a promotion for supermarket vouchers on Facebook which subsequently misled users into taking part in a premium-rate competition.
PhonepayPlus said it took "robust action" in all of the cases and was working with Facebook to ensure rogue promotions were cut off.
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