How to Protect your Pocketbook from Unwanted App Store Purchases

There are a lot of new iPad owners out there. Plenty of Christmas presents involved iOS-based mobile devices were unwrapped on December 25.

We want to let you newcomers know about the accidental in-app purchase and unwanted download of apps that your little one may have already figured out how to do.

Tech-savvy children have been known to figure out ways to “accidentally” rack up large credit card bills when mom or dad hand over a freshly password-approved iPad. Until iOS 4.3, users could purchase a barrel of Smurfberries without a password for up to 15 minutes after the initial download of the game. With the arrival of iOS 4.3,Apple placed stronger restrictions on in-app purchase capability, closing the 15-minute gap, by requiring a password every time.

In-app purchases are not the only way little ones can inadvertently download their favorite $20 game. If an app has been recently downloaded or updated, requiring a password, that 15-minute window remains for any additional purchases from the App Store.

Here are a few steps parents can take to make their mobile device veritably childproof. Firs of all, head to the settings section of the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. On the left side of the screen, there is a list of settings. The first on the list will be “Airplane Mode”, the second, “Wi-Fi” and so on. Find the “General” section and tap it. From here you can set some restrictions. At the bottom of the “General” section there is a “restrictions” section. Tap that. In order to enable restrictions, you will have to set a passcode. Think of four numbers that you are sure to remember. Enter it twice.

After setting a passcode for enabling and disabling restrictions, you can then change your settings. Set your in-app purchase allowance to “off.” This will stop unexpected purchases of hundreds of dollars worth of game candy.

The last section in the restrictions section is for the time limit on requiring purchases in the App Store. By default, it is set to 15 minutes, but it can be changed to “immediately.” This will stop accidental purchases of apps that you might later have to beg Apple for a refund of.

Restricting in-app purchases and requiring a password for all purchases and downloads may be a bit of a nuisance for parents, but the protection of your pocketbook is worth the extra steps.

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik