London - Apple is to pay £66-million in compensation to parents whose children ran up massive bills using its free apps.

Youngsters who made purchases playing the online games generated hefty charges on their parents’ credit cards.

Now as many as 23 million people in the US are eligible for a refund. However, the decision is unlikely to affect British families.

A number of software companies have developed games that are popular with children. These “bait apps” let you buy credit in order to progress through the game.

When children purchase “currency”, their parent’s iTunes account gets automatically charged. Apple started requiring users to input a password to authorise transactions in March 2011. But many parents around the world had already been hit by large and unexpected bills.

A US legal case was triggered by a nine-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who bought $200 (about R1 800) of “virtual money” from three free Apple games. In a lawsuit brought by her father, the games were described as “highly addictive” and designed to “compel” children to buy game currency.

Under the terms of the case settlement, Apple has now agreed to offer refunds worth a total of $100-million.

The company has not announced plans to compensate any parents in the UK. - Daily Mail