If your children ran amok with in-app purchases on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, now's your chance to get that money back.
You can now file a claim for your share of the settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit over Apple's old in-app purchase rules. Apple and the plaintiffs reached that settlement in February, and claimants can now receive anywhere from $5 in iTunes credit to the entire cost of any unintentional in-app purchases of in-game currency.
Getting the $5 iTunes credit is fairly simple. Just fill out a claim form, check the box that says you let a minor make in-app purchases without permission and haven't already received a refund, and select the option for the $5 credit. If you no longer have an iTunes account, the reward can be paid in cash instead.
Things get a little more complicated if you want more than just the $5 iTunes credit. For refunds greater than $5, but less than $30, you can fill out an itemized refund form, which requires you to look up the names of every app involved. Qualified apps include games with a 4+, 9+, or 12+ rating that were available in the App Store prior to May 2, 2013 and which offered purchase of in-game currency. Again, the settlement comes in the form of iTunes Store credit, or cash if you don't have an account anymore.
The final option is for parents whose children went on serious spending sprees of more than $30. For these claims, you must fill out an itemized form, and then "describe in narrative form and under penalty of perjury" the circumstances that led to the unauthorized purchases by a minor. If the claim is accepted, you have the option of iTunes Store credit or a cash refund.
Keep in mind that the claims are only good for in-app purchases made within a given 45-day period. For purchases made after that period, you must explain why you failed to notice the emails from Apple and the charges on your credit card statements after the initial purchases. All claims must be submitted by January 13, 2014.
Apple has changed the way iOS handles in-app purchases since this issue first arose. Under the old system, users who downloaded a new app had a 15-minute window in which they could make purchases without re-entering their password password. In iOS 4.3, Apple added a second 15-minute window, requiring users to enter their password again for in-app purchases. Earlier this year, Apple added a warning to App Store listings, letting users know when an app contains extra items for sale.
These protections aren't foolproof, which is why we still occasionally hear horror stories of children who rack up thousands of dollars in purchases. Fortunately, even tighter controls exist for parents, including the option to set up an iTunes allowance or disable in-app purchases altogether.