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Children run up bills of up to £1,000 on parents’ mobile phone accounts

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  Wednesday 16th January 2013
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Wednesday 16th January 2013
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Details of extortionately priced downloads which allow children to run up massively inflated phone bills have been released today.

iphone 5 yutaka tsutano

Parents who use smartphones are being stung by companies who charge extortionate amounts for downloads in children-focused applications. Photo: Yutaka Tsutano

Industry regulators have begun investigating certain phone applications after PhonepayPlus, a company that regulates the content we pay for, saw a 300% increase in the number of complaints from parents in 2012 alone.

As youngsters have become more capable of grasping new technology, it seems that companies have been capitalising on this by promoting apparently free downloads that appeal to children. Once a child has begun playing the game, they are offered the opportunity to download credits to enhance their game-play.

Unbeknown to their parents – and often to the children themselves – charges are run through to the credit card or bank account that their parents have registered to the phone in order to pay for phone bills, or for music and video downloads.

More and more parents are purchasing the smartphones which allow children access to downloadable games, as many of them offer valuable educational and time-saving resources.

Mobile phone retailers offer deals on contract phones from all companies and networks, including the newest Samsung and Nokia smartphones from just £15.50 a month, whilst the newest iPhone is available for under £40.

Parents are able to enjoy smartphones at such good prices, but are being stung by application developers who are charging their children a fortune without advertising their prices.

Gemma Sadler, a mother whose 6-year-old son ran up a phone bill of over £1000 on a free-to-download application, said: “We had no idea the money was even going out of our account until the fraud squad at the bank rang us…And when we looked at our bank account and found such a large amount of money missing I felt absolutely sick.”

Abbie Cavendish