Apple Under Fire As Hackers Steal Money From iTunes Accounts?

Apple Under Fire As Hackers Steal Money From iTunes Accounts?

Hackers have once again turned to cracking iTunes accounts to obtain a ton of content paid content and leave you with the bill. Once inside your account, these thieves will steal your store credit and gift cards, and make purchases with your credit card and Paypal information. But is Apple doing enough to stop them?

iTunes users have taken to Apple’s Support Communities to report that their accounts have been used to fund fraudulent purchases that they did not authorize. Over 1,080 people have reported their experiences at the time of writing this post. Elcarmean writes:

The exact same thing just happened to me with the order occurring on December 1st, with the same Towson MD zip code put in. Luckily I did not have a credit card connected to the account, so it only used $20.50 in gift card credit. I have e-mailed Apple and am waiting for a response.

Apple is reportedly looking into the issue, and it is issuing refunds to customers who have been affected by hacking. However, many users report that the company is “reluctant” to deal with their issue, and tells them that their refund is a “one-time exception to our sales policy.”

One user, Fiona McKinlay, told The Global Mail that she added a $40 gift card to her iTunes account, but her balance dropped to $1.62 just days later because of in-app purchases she didn’t make. Apple disabled her account, refunded the money she had lost, then reactivated it.

McKinlay reports that while Apple was helpful, it “failed to acknowledge that there may be any sort of problem with their system.”

The Globe and Mail reports that Apple has “dithered” in addressing these issues:

Many of the iTunes users whose accounts have been hacked are increasingly frustrated with Apple’s customer service, saying the company at the very least has dithered in fixing the problem. Some accuse the tech giant of being indifferent to the problem.

While most of the instances of hacking are simply for personal gain, British tabloid The Daily Mail notes that some devious developers will hack into accounts to leave positive ratings and reviews on their own App Store titles.

The report points to an incident two years ago, when Thuat Nguyen of Vietnam hacked into over 400 accounts to boost his App Store sales and ratings.

Despite allegations that the company may be disinterested in the issue, an Apple spokesman confirmed that it “takes precautions to safeguard your personal information against loss, theft and misuse.”

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  • CharliK

    I can understand Apple’s side of this. The best security in the world does no good when you use the same password everywhere and your Facebook or email is hacked. Or you use a bad password or an easy security question. More often than not, that is how these ‘hackers’ are getting into the accounts, not by brute force attacks. 

    given that apparently many of these folks were from the same general location I would first wonder if their ISPs email server was hacked (or it was an employee with such access) and they are using the same password in both. 

  • Tim Hart

    My guess is the vast majority of these cases involve compromised Windows PCs and keylogging malware. Maybe apple should look into providing those hardware number generators that companies such as Blizzard send to their customers that pay for them.

  • stefn

    I would ask the “password” question as well. If these hacked folks used passwords that (1) are not unique to Apple, (2) are less than 15 characters, and (3) do not include lowercase, uppercase, numerals, and special characters, all these, they have only themselves to blame. We are long past the moment when silly, simple passwords are excusable. They have only themselves to blame. It’s cold and ferocious on the internets. Get used to it.

  • Brad Haynes

    Nice vintage photo of iTunes running on a 12″ Powerbook with Tiger. 

  • Macmann

    What can Apple actually do if someone uses a weak password and has it ‘hacked’? 

  • Marco Vega Ramos

    I’ve been charged this 6th for 50 usd twice for something called VESTA *T-MOBILE, I had to cancel my credit card and request a new one, hope this has nothing to be with iTunes, that would be really disappointing.

  • Peter Ludes

    My account had obviously been hacked some weeks ago. Some Chinese Ü)!”$§$§$ downloaded a free game and made a 99.99 € in app purchase. I called apple and the problem was solved within one day, I got my money back, changed my password (it was a strong one before, but now it is even stronger^^) and  that was it. Apple saw that the purchase was made from a new device without me having bought one within the last months and the damn app was in chinese….

  • AdamChew1

    Face it nothing can safeguard stupidity.

  • mikells43

    same thing happened to me this summer man. same exact thing. i had like 60$ in credit from gift cards, and i had that billing agreement with paypal thru iTunes and they hammered it for over 150$ on my bank acct/paypal acct.   my ordeal took over a week to finish, including a case filed with the local state police and i couldn’t get thru to iTunes cause they don’t have a phone support so i had to work with their bullshit email support which is a pain in the ass when ur pissed cause u just got ripped off. hell the apps are still showing on my acct til i hid them a few weeks ago. there china apps. craziness. 

  • mikells43

    like in my comment to peter. I’ve had this happen this past summer.   things that can solve it and stop it are to cancel the billing agreement with paypal. and use some other form of payment. or just make a better password lol. and don’t click unknown links in ur email or on random sites. 

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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