Apple describes its iTunes Monthly gift cards as a “great way to give a gift that just keeps on giving”. These electronic gift cards, once dispatched to the recipient’s e-mail address, allow him/her to purchase virtually any type of content from the iTunes Store; music, video, apps, you name it!
So why am I going on about iTunes gift cards? You might ask yourself. I would like to bring to attention the recent case of Peter, a fellow iTunes user whose account was hacked and found his bank account plunged “into the red” within a matter of hours. It turns out over $1,500 had been charged on fraudulent iTunes gift purchases.
Peter, shocked, couldn’t believe that all of a sudden, he was in such big debt with his bank. He logged onto his iTunes account to check his purchase history only to find that multiple purchases of so called “Monthly Gift” cards had been realized.
Disappointment with Apple
Peter promptly contacted both his bank (HSBC) and Apple to sort out this issue. Apple’s “solved” the case by simply suspending his account, whereas HSBC reacted in a better way, restoring the funds back to his account, allowing him to make his mortgage payment. In a recent interview with El Reg, Peter highlighted the fact that even after years of buying Apple products and using iTunes on a regular basis to buy some music (a very loyal customer), it took them over 24 hours to get back to him and offer no help at all.
Peter is still unsure how is personal data may have been jeopardized. Was it a phishing attack, a malware infection, a hacker? The reason still remains unknown and we might probably never know!
iTunes + fraud = very common!
Googling the terms “iTunes + fraud”, will bring up many stories that prove that Peter is not the only one who has lost a reasonable amount of money from his bank account through fraudulent iTunes gift purchases. The estimated total is said to be over hundreds or even thousands and this just goes for known cases!
How can we protect ourselves from this scam? Is iTunes safe? There is no real solution to this problem, many things can go wrong. The best thing to do is purchase a decent antivirus with high detection rates, able to detect and eliminate almost any threat that could compromise your data. Furthermore, it is recommended that Internet users are cautious when it comes to surfing online, making sure they visit websites that are safe and will pose no harm to their respective PC’s. As for iTunes, Peter’s tale of woe raises questions to whether iTunes can guarantee safety to its users. It isn’t Apple’s fault in actual fact but personally, I think users should think twice about linking their debit or credit cards to their iTunes accounts. Instead, they always have the option of purchasing physical gift cards from any major retail store: Wal-Mart, Tesco, etc. or even an Apple Store.