Federal judge finds Amazon liable after charging parents for in-app purchases made by their children


A federal judge has found Amazon unfairly billed parents for in-app purchases made by their children in a lawsuit first filed by the Federal Trade Commission back in July of 2014.

According to the FTC, the judge found that Amazon received many complaints from consumers about unknown in-app purchases made by the children. The original complaint filed by the government agency stated that Amazon had violated the FTC Act by billing parents and other Amazon account holders for charges made by their children without the consent of the parent or other account holder. Amazon’s setup allowed children playing these kids’ games to spend an unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items within the apps such as “coins,” “stars,” and “acorns” without parental involvement.

The complaint further alleged that there was no password requirement for any in-app purchases, including kid’s games, when Amazon first introduced the practice to the Amazon Appstore in November 2011. It was not until June 2014 that Amazon required password for all in-app game purchases.

The complaint included one mother’s account of her daughter racking up $358.42 in unauthorized charges.The games would also often encourage children to buy certain virtual items, causing confusion on which purchases used real and virtual currency.

“We are pleased the federal judge found Amazon liable for unfairly billing consumers for unauthorized in-app purchases by children,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “We look forward to making a case for full refunds to consumers as a result of Amazon’s actions.”

The full refund amount for consumers has not yet been settled. The FTC also reached settlement with Apple & Google for unauthorized in-app, resulting in refunds to consumers for over $50 million.