Whether it’s happened to you or not, this story should speak to many parents, and hopefully warn them of the potential danger in wiring a credit card to a mobile gaming app or a game on Xbox, PC, PlayStation, or any system for that matter. It’s not so much hackers doing the excessive spending – it’s your own children in most cases. As this has become a common scenario among parents with children gamers, parents are urged talk to their child to make sure in-game purchases are supervised. Almost all games nowadays have in-app/in-game purchases, including Fortnite, sports games, Call of Duty, Roblox, Minecraft, etc.
Steve Cumming, a 72 year old father, said he let his daughter make what he intended to be a one-time payment on his debit card for a game called Roblox. His 11 year old daughter paid $5.65 for the smartphone app known as Roblox, a widely popular video game among her age range, very similar to Minecraft. But what Steve Cumming didn’t know, was Roblox is a free game and the $5.65 purchase would go towards in-game purchases.
After about a month, he looked at his card’s balance, and he found thousands of dollars had been charged to his account. His daughter had made many in-game purchases, adding up to a hefty bill.
Fortunately, Roblox says it will refund Cumming.
Steve Cumming spoke out about the incident, saying, “I’m not very tech-savvy. Due to coronavirus I couldn’t visit the bank and I didn’t want to use cash machines, so I decided to sign up to online banking,” he said.
When he first logged in, almost a month after that initial payment to Roblox, he was shocked to discover that $5,250.00 had vanished from his account and he was in his overdraft.
“When I first logged in nearly a month later I was astonished to see hundreds and hundreds of separate transactions, all between $0.99 and $9.99. I couldn’t understand it. I thought I’d been scammed.”
Cumming first noticed a loss of $3,500, so he phone his bank to cancel his card. Despite doing that, a further $2,000 left his account and was paid to Roblox.
“My daughter was really upset when we told her about the financial consequences. She thought she was playing with monopoly money – it didn’t seem real to her. How can these companies be allowed to trap minors in these games? To trap people who are vulnerable?” he said.
He said he also thinks the government should step in and change the law for in-game purchases among kids games.
“I get by on my pension. But this is a lot of money to me. I had earmarked it for a holiday when this pandemic is all over. I wanted to pay for my daughter to have a break. We can’t now and I’m in my overdraft.”
Steve did admit he did not read the terms and conditions or his purchase when he gave permission to his daughter to use his card.
But he made a common point among parents, saying, it’s amazing that in a game designed to be played by children it would even be possible to spend thousands of dollars across a thousand transactions over the course of just a few weeks. It seems there should be a red flag system in place.
After the incident, Roblox stated, “We strive to prevent unauthorized purchases, by taking measures such as not storing billing information, and work directly with parents to provide appropriate refunds whenever possible, which is the case in this instance. We encourage parents to review their payment settings on third-party services, such as Google Play, as they typically have an option to require a password for each purchase made and/or to prevent any information from being saved in browser settings that could allow them to be reused.”