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Saturday 23 August 2014

Protection against stealth game charges

Louise McBride

Published 09/02/2014 | 02:30

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If you're still reeling from a massive bill inadvertently clocked up when playing online games, you might be relieved to hear that games producers have been told to get their act together on consumer protection by April 1.

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The British consumer watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has given producers this deadline to ensure their games do not breach consumer-protection law.

Under new rules, consumers should be told upfront about the costs associated with a game and any in-game advertising.

The rules also make it clear that in-game payments are not authorised and should not be taken unless a parent or credit card holder has given his or her express consent to the charges.

As many of the online games played by Irish consumers are produced by British companies, Irish gamers should benefit from the new rules.

Some people have racked up bills running to tens of thousands of euro playing online games. The Dublin consumer watchdog, the European Consumer Centre, recently investigated a case where a man ran up a €20,000 bill over a year playing online.

Irish Independent

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