Regulator warns of 300% increase in complaints of children accessing smartphone apps


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 16, 2013 | 2 min read

UK phone regulator PhonepayPlus has published figures showing a 300% increase in the number of parents coming to it with complaints of their children accessing smartphone apps – with some racking up bills of £1,000’s.

The Express reports that the premium rate telephone services regulator found that 63% of 11 to 16 year olds have downloaded a free app on their phones with their parents sometimes finding themselves liable for bills of ‘hundreds or even thousands’ of pounds.

Children as Connected Consumers found that such free apps posed significant malware risks and exposed the owner to unlimited billing for in-app ‘extras’ – often without their consent.

Some fake versions of popular games such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope charged users £15 every time the game was opened.

The report observed that children have also been targeted on social media sites such as one instance where they were encouraged to share a supermarket promotion on Facebook which subsequently misled people into participating in a premium rate phone competition.

In response PhonepayPlus recommends parents register phones as belonging to a child and introducing controls via their network such as pay as you go or blocking certain features.


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