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Google to pay $19m in app purchase refunds

US Federal Trade Commission complains over unauthorised in-app purchases

Google to pay $19m in app purchase refunds
Google will refund at least $19m of in-app purchases.

Google will pay out at least $19m in refunds for unauthorised in-app purchases following a US Federal Trade Commission complaint.

The FTC alledged that Google unfairly billed consumers for millions of dollars in unauthorised charges incurred by children using mobile apps downloaded from the Google Play app store for use on Android mobile devices.

Google will now have to tell users how they can get refunds for in-app purchases, and has also been instructed to do more to warn users about spending on in-app purchases.

The settlement comes following similar deals with Apple, which agreed in January to refund a minimum of of $32.5 million, and Amazon, which was the subject of a complaint in July.

The Commission's complaint against Google alleges that since 2011, Google violated the FTC Act's prohibition on "unfair" commercial practices by billing consumers for charges by children made within kids' apps downloaded from the Google Play store. Many consumers reported hundreds of dollars of such unauthorised charges, according to the complaint.

"For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it's vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorise."

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