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Beware of 'free' smartphone apps with hidden fees

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GILBERT, AZ (CBS5) -

If you have an iPad, iPhone or some other smart phone, you need to keep reading.

Some of the free smartphone applications out there may end up costing you a lot of money.

Allison Moskowitz is a mother of three from Gilbert, who got a big surprise on a recent credit card statement.

Her children had downloaded what Moskowitz thought was a free app.

"You think once you tell them they can download the app, then you're free and clear," said Moskowitz. "Then suddenly you see charges showing up and you weren't expecting them."

It turns out the kids had downloaded a free game that had "in-app" purchases built in.

So when they wanted to move on to a new level they were asked to click a banner or icon that would charge a fee.

Some app extra fees, called "freemiums" can range in price from $1 all the way up to $100.

The children's dad, Ken Moskowitz, likes to think his kids are pretty tech savvy, after all, he works at Data Doctors.

But the kids had no idea they were racking up a big bill on daddy's credit card.

 "You know what you are doing - you're putting in a credit card and you're authorizing that," said Ken Moskowitz. "It's clear to an adult, but it's not clear to a kid when they click on a flashy icon that all of a sudden you hear a cash register."

"There was one case where there was a pet hotel. It was a virtual pet hotel and this one boy racked up thousands of dollars in app purchases in a day," said Ken Moskowitz.

Ken Moskowitz told CBS-5 News there is a way to protect yourself by simply going to the settings on your iPad or smart phone and turning off the devices ability to buy in-app purchases.

Some parents have gotten so angry at the in-app purchases that they've filed lawsuits against Apple and other developers.

They claim that the apps exploit children and charge ridiculous fees.

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