If you have children chances are you’ve let them play with your phone or tablet, but it could be a decision that turns out to be very costly.
Just ask Donna Jacob.
The mum from Sydney, Australia is having to deal with the consequences after her autistic son, 7, bought a rare toy on eBay for £5,500 (AUD $10,000) using her bank details on ‘auto-fill’.
Let’s face it being able to auto-fill your debit or credit card on your phone or laptop has made buying things online so much easier.
Unfortunately, however, it has also made it easier for children to make their own online purchases.
Now, Donna has been forced to beg the online auction marketplace for a refund of the rare Coles Stikeez Golden Billy Banana toy that her son bought without her knowledge.
The 47-year-old’s son was able to purchase the toy via the online marketplace when Donna’s credit card details automatically filled in.
Her 7-year-old is an avid collector of the toys, but was told he was not allowed to buy the Golden Billy Banana.
Donna only found out about the purchase after she received a confirmation email from eBay.
Having contacted the seller to no avail, Donna was forced to turn to eBay to ask for a refund.
Donna told Channel Seven she believes it was ridiculous that her son was able to buy the expensive toy in just a couple of quick steps.
“Between PayPal and the bank, there should be at least one stopper that says ‘hang on, this isn’t right,’ and no-one did.”
Donna isn’t the only parent who has found themselves footing the bill after their children have gone wild with the purchasing online.
A recent survey from CompareCards found that 29 percent of parents have had their children under age 18 use their credit or debit cards without their permission.
Those purchases could be prompted by a seemingly innocent activity on a mobile device via in-app purchases while they are gaming or just using the auto-fill to purchase something they’re desperate for.
It was also recently revealed that parents need to be aware that their Amazon Alexa could be accidentally ordering gifts without their knowledge.
Back in December an expert in cyber security issued a warning to mums and dads that they could unwittingly order Christmas gifts by discussing potential present ideas in front of their Alexa and Google Assistant devices.
“It’s remarkable how common this issue is,” says Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods from Lysander Law.
“Online spend without parent’s knowledge by children is in excess of £80m per year. With the growing popularity of digital home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, which can even house your credit card information, buying online has never been easier.”
Cambrook-Woods says the largest proportion of online spending by children is on online gaming, which is worrying.
“What could seem an innocent children’s game, could actually require spending to get to the next level for example. Therefore, more regulation is needed,” she continues.
“Education is the key to prevention with this one. In order to reduce risk, parents need to talk to their children, point out restrictions and discuss the risks of spending online – for example the risks of fraud.
“In practice parental controls should be set up wherever possible, particularly on Xbox, iPad or PlayStation devices – even Kindles – which are now far more advanced and can provide easy access to the internet,” she continues.
“These settings are easily accessible on the devices under family management toolbars. These will allow you to set restrictions such as age restrictions, spending limits or online chat permissions.
Cambrook-Woods says that many larger companies such as Facebook and PayPal will recognise the indiscretion and will often refund – however this is on a case-by-case basis so cannot be relied upon.
“Additionally, these companies will generally only be forgiving once, so the key is to educate your children and outline the consequences,” she adds. “The benefits of implementing parental controls will keep your children safe as well as your finances and personal information.”
Thankfully there is a happy ending this time and after being contacted by numerous media outlets, eBay have agreed to refund the purchase to Donna.
A spokesperson from eBay revealed: “eBay understands there are unique circumstances in this case. As a result, the buyer will receive a refund for the purchase.
“To ensure eBay remains a safe and secure marketplace, account holders must be over 18. A person under the age of 18 can use an adult’s account with their permission, however, the account holder is ultimately responsible for any activity.
“We encourage customers with any concerns or queries to contact us directly.”