Parents, we know it is frustrating when your child goes behind your back and spends your hard-earned money on in-app purchases and the like. As the parent, it is your job to teach your child right from wrong; it is not up to Apple or TikTok to teach your child the right thing to do especially when the child is on the spectrum (meaning that he or she has some degree of learning disabilities because of autism).
Yet, the father of a 10-year-old autistic girl is upset at Apple for not blocking what could only be seen as suspicious payments totaling $2,500 to a TikTok creator.
10-year old girl spends nearly $2,500 of her father’s money to make TikTok purchases behind her dad’s back
According to a letter written to the U.K.’s Telegraph publication, a reader with the initials “AH” had given his autistic 10-year old daughter an iPhone this past Christmas. Some might consider that to be a healthy purchase for an autistic child while others might worry that it would lead to sensory overload. Four days later, the child purchased $2,486 in coins for TikTok over 23 separate transactions. The parent discovered the purchases after an invoice had been sent directly from Apple to his inbox.
Father buys his autistic daughter a new iPhone this past Christmas
The parent asked Apple for a refund for each of the 23 purchases made by his daughter but each one was denied. Attempts to contact Apple’s headquarters, including the one based in Ireland, failed. Eventually, the father was given a link to Apple’s legal processes which “gives very little information at all,” he noted. “AH” came to the sad conclusion that “This is such a lot of money to lose in the space of a few minutes in this way.”
The child’s father wrote, “I believe Apple has let me down by failing to identify the unusual activity on my account and protecting me by blocking the suspicious payments. I also feel its customer care has been nonexistent.” Also non-existent was any protection that the father should have taken. If he had given the situation a little thought, he could have activated child safety controls which would have blocked his child from using her iPhone to make purchases while also limiting what the child could do with her device.
Apple eventually refunded the money back to the parent
Ironically, the father had activated the child safety controls on his child’s previous iPhone model, just not on the new one. The TikTok creator whom the child made the payments to has over four million followers and was verified by TikTok. At first, TikTok said that the member, using the code name “Ohidur247,” hadn’t broken any rules but didn’t explain what the payments were for.
TikTok was pressed to investigate further and discovered that the member had violated guidelines related to frauds and scams. The member was taking payments in exchange for followers which goes against TikTok rules. After hearing about the new information, Apple decided to reimburse the parent in full while also reminding him that parental controls are available.
The Telegraph report noted that Apple’s payment system “should have flagged up suspicious activity and blocked the payments,” similar to the anti-fraud measures that raise red flags after certain purchases are made using a bank’s purchasing platform.
As for “Ohidur247,” he apparently remains a TikTok member in good standing although he is no longer allowed to live-stream. His account is still active and verified.
Stories about a minor going on an App Store buying spree after getting access to money from his/her parents behind their back, have become an all too-common tale. And unfortunately, everyone gets hurt. Apple usually caves and returns the funds, the parents have to fight to be made whole, and the child often gets yelled at for reasons he/she doesn’t fully understand.
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