US-based parents whose children used their cards for in-app purchases on the popular Fortnite video game can now request a refund.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a regulatory body which oversees consumer protection, has begun to notify more than 37 million people via email that they may be eligible for compensation.
It was announced last year that Fortnite’s maker, Epic Games Inc, would settle a legal dispute and pay a total $520 million after complaints were raised around children’s privacy and its payment methods that tricked players into making unintended purchases.
Of the aggregate, $245 million would be payed in customer refunds and the remaining $275 million fine is for the company allegedly collecting personal information on Fortnite players under the age of 13 without informing their parents or getting their consent.
The FTC said in a statement on Tuesday that the Fortnite maker “used dark patterns and other deceptive practices to trick players into making unwanted purchases” and also “made it easy for children to rack up charges without parental consent.”
Epic Games said after settling the case in December that it implemented additional safeguards to prevent unintended purchases.
Will the refunds be eligible to UK customers?
At present, to qualify for the settlement refund customers must be based in the US, but Matthew Weissinger, Director of Marketing at Epic Games previously told a UK government department they would generous with unauthorised purchases by children.
Addressing the Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee back in 2019, Mr Weissinger said: “We have family fraud rules in place for just these exact types of situations.
“If they can show us that their child has done this transaction and it wasn’t authorised, it’s our intention to be generous in those cases.”
Leigh Day Solicitors product safety team partner, Jill Paterson, also told ITV News that while she hopes Epic Games are living up to that commitment, there are rights in place for consumers.
She said: “If not, while the legal settlement with the FTC doesn’t apply in the UK and the basis for it was under US law, there are similar laws that might provide consumer redress here.”
Who is eligible in the US?
According to the FTC, those eligible for refunds include:
- Fortnite users charged in-game currency for items they didn’t want between January 2017 and September 2022
- Those whose child made charges to their credit card without their knowledge between January 2017 and November 2018
- Those whose account was locked after they complained to their credit card company about wrongful charges.
Customers are able to submit a claim until January 17, 2024.
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