How To Avoid Losing $2,000 To iTunes

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If you're signed up to get my emails, you probably saw my note about how much I love Apple right now because they refunded a hefty sum of iTunes charges back onto my credit card last week.

Here's the story (you know there's always a story):

When we were in the tippy top of a clock tower last week in Lucerne, Switzerland, I got a call from my credit card company saying there was a great deal of unusual activity on my card.

Turns out there was a flurry of iTunes charges onto that card happening since April 2nd.

To the tune of $1,923.47. 😱

Knowing they were fraudulent charges, I cancelled my card to stop the bleeding, so I could relax a little bit, until I could deal with it when I got home.

Alas, they were not fraudulent iTunes charges.

They were purchased legitimately with the tender, tiny thumbprint of my 10-year-old son. 

He was tricked by the sneaky in-app purchase options and has been loading up on power-up's and bonus points for the last six weeks, giving me an awesome bank of credit card rewards and a puckered-up bung-hole. (By the way, in case you're a skimmer and don't read my posts word for word, you won't want to miss the PS portion today, because there are some important do-this-not-that lessons I'd like to impart.)

The lady in Apple's customer support had to turn me over to Reginald, a Senior Support Specialist, because, she said, "This amount is way over what I'm allowed to help you with."

Reginald is my new favorite person on the planet because he didn't just refund these charges, he was friendly and funny, and he insisted that I do not change my son's Apple ID to a brand new one, because "then he'll lose everything he's worked so hard for."

I thought it was sweet that Reginald assumed one of my kids could have worked hard for anything, because neither of my boys are dig-your-heels-in people. I think I've said this to you before, but it bears repeating (things are still raw here at home).

I know you're thinking that it wasn't an accident and that my son probably knew he was charging my card, but there's just no way.

He asks my permission to download even free games. 

He's terrified of getting in trouble or getting called out in any way.

He's such a rule follower and a people pleaser, and I'm hoping he's always this way, even though I know kids change.

You may remember that I had high hopes and lofty expectations for our oldest, too, but things haven't worked out according to plan, so far. 

I'd like to think we could recapture the sweet, over-achieving, caring person our first-born once was and appeared he'd forever be, but my fear is that that won't happen.

I'm afraid that beef got turned into hamburger a long time ago.

We came home last night from a Texas Stars hockey game and he had friends over (which he'd gotten pre-approved), and there were empty and non-empty soda cans all around the living room, including on the floor, chip crumbs, and bits of pizza on the sofa, and a cereal bowl, still with milk inside, on the carpeted floor of our media room.

It looked like the aftermath of a frat party.

I don't remember being this irritated about stuff like this in the past. I'm not sure if it's gotten worse or if our tolerance level has become more sensitive and less forgiving. 

Dear Jesus, I hope I have not raised a burden to society. 

In other news, my posts will probably start being a little shorter going forward. You know it's hard for me because I'm wordy and I have lots of things to say. But my writing time and energy will be focused on my book for a while, so I'll need to keep things a little shorter over here on the blog.

My book is a completely different voice than my blog - the book is a serious historic fiction, and my blog is my own conversational (and very witty) voice **sniffs, and tosses head with an air of self-importance**, so I hope I don't confuse the two and start getting all serious over here, and start writing in an accent.

Ugh, just stop me if I become all British, and of course let me know if you need me to translate English to American for you, because it's like a different language, you know that, right?

Let me know in the comments below if you have any stories of your own kids or those that you just know of, who went through a rough, confusing patch, but eventually found their way and became successful ("successful" meaning: responsible enough to pick something up when dropped, to lock a door when leaving, and/or to place dirty clothing into a hamper. I don't ask much.)

Also - please only share stories with happy endings. I cannot bare to hear a story of a smart, overachieving child, who goes off the rails as a teenager and ultimately stays there. I need to feel like we're just "in a phase."

PS - Here's an important lesson I'd like to share with you: For some reason when I established my son's Apple ID, I set up a fake birth year, so that he could have an adult account. I don't know why I ever would have done this, but I'm guessing there was a good reason. 

Don't do this.

If you set up a child account, you can give them all the same permissions and access as an adult account, plus you can manage the "Ask to Purchase" option on their account (this option doesn't exist on an adult account).

If you set up an adult account, Apple cannot talk to you about the account because of privacy issues. It was funny when Reginald said, "I can't get into the account without your son's permission - is he there?" to which I said, "He's ten." 

You also can't just go into the account and change the year on the birthdate. 

Reginald couldn't talk to me about the account, but he was able to put the refund request through and it luckily worked, although he originally said we'd have to wait and see. That could have been devastating!

Another safeguard tip: many apps make it appear that even to secure free stuff, you have to put in a credit card over in your iTunes account. Nope. Not true. 

So, what happened in my case, is that I'd fallen for this trick and I put my credit card into my son's account. I felt safe doing that because he doesn't know the passcode.

He does, however, have Touch ID activated, and had "Touch ID is enabled for all purchases" turned on. 

Do these two things to safeguard yourself, if you've got your kid on an adult account:

1. Remove your credit card.

Settings > iTunes & App Store > tap Apple ID: [your Apple ID] > View Apple ID > [enter passcode] > Payment Information > None

2. Turn off Touch ID for everything except unlocking the phone.

Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > [enter passcode] > Under "Use Touch ID For," Turn off Apple Pay and iTunes & App Store