The Federal Trade Commission today announced that Google has agreed to refund a minimum of $19 million to consumers who were charged for purchases made by their children without authorization. Google has also agreed to change its Play Store billing practices so as to better obtain express consent for in-app purchases.
The Commission alleges that many consumers reported hundreds of dollars of unauthorized charges due to current billing practices. Many free apps contain in-app purchases (where kids often think they’re just spending virtual money), so even if there isn’t an upfront cost, you could end up paying in the long run.
The settlement requires Google to contact all consumers with in-app charges to inform them of the refund process for unauthorized charges within 15 days of the order. Google had previously faced a class-action lawsuit by parents over the same matter, and the settlement follows similar cases involving Amazon and Apple.