Many iPhone and iPad owners in Singapore are complaining of fraudulent iTunes charges on their accounts, alleging they have been wrongly billed hundreds of dollars by iTunes. As of now, it is not known how many customers have seen fraudulent iTunes charges.
Who is at fault: Apple or banks?
It must be noted that iTunes is not the only thing all the affected customers have in common. They all have their bank accounts at DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). The Chinese bank has reported about 58 such cases of frauds so far in July.
In a statement, Vincent Tan, head of credit cards at OCBC Bank said, “In early July, we detected and investigated unusual transactions on 58 cardholders’ accounts. Upon confirmation that these were fraudulent transactions, we deployed the necessary counter-measures and are currently assisting the affected cardholders via the chargeback process.”
Two people told Channel NewsAsia the fraudulent iTunes charges amounted to $5,000. One of the victims added that her HSBC credit card was charged, and she only realized it after she received a message from her bank stating that less than 30% of her credit limit was left.
Another customer, Patricia Choy, posted on her Facebook account that more than $7,000 was taken from her DBS account in 45 transactions. Another victim, Wilson Wong, is waiting for refunds totally approximately S$2,000; he stated that 12 fraudulent iTunes transactions were charged to his OCBC debit card on July 13.
“Just disappointed with OCBC. They only called me when the transaction was at S$1,900,” Wong told Channel NewsAsia.
The Strait Times reported separately that Apple customer support informed one affected customer that she did not make any purchase from her iTunes account. Rather, she was told that her card was used by a fraudulent iTunes account. Apple has now banned that account.
Fraud of this level of intensity was reported earlier this year as well. A customer named Gabriel Lim was reportedly billed $200 for iTunes purchases and received charges on his mobile phone bill as well. Various “iTunes Orders” were added to his M1 phone bill between April and May. Thereafter, he contacted Apple Singapore to cancel the transactions, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Measures to check fraudulent iTunes charges
Channel NewsAsia confirmed that Apple is looking into the matter, but there are no additional details. In a statement, Apple Singapore told the news outlet it is looking into the matter and urges customers to go through their support pages to learn about reporting fraudulent iTunes charges.
“They will need to sign in using their Apple ID, and will then be able to view purchases and assess veracity before reporting the issue,” the company said.
Affected banks have reportedly heightened their monitoring of all iTunes spending in recent weeks due to an increase in fraudulent activity. A DBS spokesperson revealed that affected customers will receive temporary credit cards to use while the investigation into the fraudulent iTunes charges continues.
Banks are also calling customers to convey details about potentially fraudulent activity, and their accounts are temporarily blocked if they do not respond. For any confirmed fraudulent transaction, banks are assisting customers in claiming a refund and issuing a new card as an additional security measure.
“We also constantly monitor credit/debit card transactions in real time for any suspicious activities… We urge customers to call us immediately at 1800 111 1111 if they notice suspicious or unusual activity…,” a DBS spokesperson told a local publication.
iTunes payment changes blocked on old OS
It must also be noted that in late June, Apple revealed plans to block changes related to iTunes and App Store payment information on older versions of iOS, tvOS, and macOS. It is not clear if this change has anything to do with this recent spate of fraudulent iTunes charges.
Apple announced that starting June 30, customers using devices running on older OS versions will not be able to change their payment sources for the iTunes and App Store if they do not update to the newer versions of the operating systems. The change specifically affects iOS 4.3.5 or earlier (released in 2011); macOS 10.8.5 or earlier (OS X Mountain Lion); and Apple TV Software 4.4.4 or earlier.
Apple stated that users still on the older version will have to update to the newer version to change payment-related information used to make purchases on the App Store and iTunes.