How to stop in game purchases.

Many parents are discovering that money is disappearing from their bank accounts due to their children purchasing in-game content on their consoles and PCs. Several of our customers have experienced this issue and earlier this year, a parent on Mumsnet complained that their son had “accidentally spent £80 on Fortnite”. In their defence, they often do it unknowingly. It can be difficult to reclaim this money and banks are often reluctant to offer refunds.

For the most part, the spending is on “loot boxes” (purchasable virtual items which can be unlocked to receive a range of further virtual items, such as the customisation of an avatar or rare weaponry) or on unlocking new features on their game. These can be paid for with in-game currency or with real money, the latter unfortunately being extremely easy to do. In some instances, just pressing the A button on a controller instead of the B button will make a purchase.

However, it is possible to prevent your child from making in-game purchases.

Firstly, make sure that no credit card is associated with their account or console. If your child has an Xbox or Playstation, it is possible to create a child account which will prevent them from registering a credit card. Parents who share their console with a child can password protect their account to prevent them from making unwanted purchases.

To stop purchases on PS4: log into your main PS4 adult account, go to Settings > Parental Controls > Family Management. Choose Add Family Member > Create User, and then enter your child’s name and date of birth. Once you accept a user agreement, you’ll be given options to set specific parental controls.

To stop purchases on Xbox: the easiest way is to create a special Xbox account with no payment details added. However, Xbox multiplayer games (like Fortnite) require Xbox Live Gold Membership, which costs money. But you can create a special passcode that’s required to verify purchases – go to Settings > All Settings > Accounts > Sign-in. Choose Change My Sign-In & Security Preferences, then Customise. Select Ask For My Passkey To Make Purchases, choose Passkey Required, then pick a PIN number.

To stop purchases on your computer: to play games online, your kids will need an Epic or Steam Games account. Go into the account settings, choose Payments and then make sure there are no card details in there.

To stop purchases on iPhone/iPad: whenever you make a purchase on iPhone (even inside apps like Fortnite), you’ll always have to verify it, either by entering a password, using the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, or by scanning your face with Face ID. Just make sure your child does not know your password.

Philip Brooks