Apple has introduced new tools to help parents control their children’s in-app purchases — and in some cases, it’s offering refunds.

The company agreed to pay at least $32.5 million in refunds, and make other changes, to settle a Federal Trade Commission unfair billing practices complaint that children had run up millions of dollars in charges in mobile apps without their parents’ consent.

The regulatory agency found in January that Apple had failed to clearly inform parents that entering a password to approve a single purchase opened the door to an additional 15-minute unlimited shopping spree.

Apple received tens of thousands of complaints about unauthorized purchases — including one mother, who reported that her daughter had run up a $2,600 bill in the mobile game “Tap Pet Hotel,” according to the FTC.

Apple notified its customers by email today that it was instituting better parental controls, allowing parents to restrict or disable access to content. It also created a mechanism for parents to request a refund for purchases made by a child.

“We’ve heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases,” the company wrote. “As a result, we’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s purchases, or restrict them entirely.”




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