8-year-old spends $1,875 on Roblox in-app purchases by adding her fingerprint to TouchID

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What you need to know

  • A child spent $1,875 (£1,450) on her iPad.
  • The money was spent on Roblox in-app purchases.
  • She added her fingerprint to Touch ID to make them.

A child in Wales has managed to rack up $1,875 (£1,450) in credit card debt after buying in-app purchases in the Roblox game. But her parents say that she isn't to blame.

But according to a BBC report the child was able to make those purchases after she added her own fingerprint to Touch ID so she could make them without asking a parent first.

Katie Phillips' daughter reset security settings to accept her own fingerprint to make purchases.

The whole debacle comes after the unnamed child was able to buy in-app purchases ranging from £0.99 to £19.99 during a three-day Roblox spending binge. And while Barclaycard has confirmed that it will waive the interest on those purchases, the family will ultimately have to cough up.

A Barclaycard spokesperson said: "We are sorry that Ms Phillips has had cause to complain."Unfortunately, customers are liable for the transactions authorised using their Apple ID, and we are therefore unable to provide a refund."However, we empathise with Ms Phillips' situation, so we have made arrangements not to charge any interest on the transactions."Apple has a range of features to help parents control spending on their devices, such as the ability to switch off in-app purchases, and we would encourage all customers to make use of them."

The parent believes that either Apple or Barclaycard is at fault here, despite the fact that her daughter made the security changes herself.

"It was hard to be too angry with her because she didn't really know what she was doing and she didn't understand."We are really angry, but she is innocent. She said she thought it was free.

And the Barclaycard spokesperson is absolutely right. There are security measures in place to prevent this from happening. When Family Sharing is enabled a parent must authorize a purchase – and free downloads, too – themselves before it can be completed. This may not have been possible in this case if the child's parents don't use iPhones themselves, but the BBC story doesn't mention whether that is the case.

It also doesn't mention how the child was able to add their own fingerprint to Touch ID. The iPad should have requested a passcode before allowing anyone to add a fingerprint, so presumably the child knew it.

Ultimately this is yet another example of a child outsmarting their parents because they didn't fully understand the technology at hand, or what it could be used for. Unfortunately for them, the lesson comes with a hefty $1,875 bill attached.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

2 Comments
  • sorry folks, it's your 8 year old. Can't blame everyone else for your shortcomings as a parent. It takes a village to raise a crappy child. It takes parents to raise a good one.
  • There are quite a few different ways in iOS to disable or require password on any in-app purchase, so this is the parents' fault.