Watch Out for Unauthorized Charges From iTunes
For years, consumers have complained about fraudulent charges through iTunes. Often the first sign of the fraud is an email from iTunes reporting charges that you never made. Another common first sign is to check your credit or bank account and notice pending transactions from APL*ITUNES.
Here's the tricky thing about iTunes fraud: it's happening to people who have an iTunes account and also to those who don't.
Users with iTunes accounts have charges that actually go through their iTunes account. In this instance, the fraudster has hacked into the iTunes account and purchased apps, games, music, books, or other items.
In other cases, criminals are spoofing the charges to make them look like iTunes charges. You can spot this type of fraudulent charge by going to your iTunes account and checking to see if there's a purchase which corresponds to the charge you see on your online checking or credit card account. If there are no charges on your iTunes account in the amount you see on your bank statement, it's likely your credit card itself has been compromised. You'll need to dispute those charges and, most likely, have a new card issued.
Thieves can also use stolen credit card information that they've phished or purchased on the internet and connect the details to an iTunes account. In this case, you'll see iTunes charges on your credit card account but no purchases in your iTunes account, if you have an iTunes account at all.
What to Check Before You Report Fraudulent Charges
Before you call your bank or Apple to report the charges, make sure they're actually fraudulent. If you have other devices connected to your iTunes account, a child's iPad for example, it's possible that they've accidentally (or purposely, without understanding the consequences) made purchases on their device.
A common in-app purchase example of this is where kids tap a button for more coins or to unlock parts of games.
Tips to Prevent iTunes Fraud
One way to prevent fraudulent charges on your iTunes account is to delete your credit card information from iTunes and to instead fund your account with an iTunes gift card. You can purchase a gift card from most major retailers. The prepaid card will let you make purchases until the balance is depleted. At that point, you can purchase a new card and load the funds onto your iTunes account. Thieves can still hack your account and make purchases with your gift card, but at least they're limited only to what's available on your gift card, not your entire checking account or credit card balance and your credit card information will be safe.
You can delete your credit card information from iTunes by going to Store --> View My Account. Click on Edit Payment Information and next to "Credit Card," select the radio button next to "None."
You can adjust your security permissions on devices to require a password before the user can make purchases. You can also set it so that in-app purchases aren't allowed. This way your little ones can't accidentally rack up charges on your iTunes account.
What to Do About Fraudulent Charges
If you notice an authorization or charges from APL*ITUNES for transactions that you didn't make, contact your bank immediately. It may take some time to resolve the charges but the sooner you contact your bank, the quicker you'll cut off the fraudsters access to your funds.