PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From food for a pet to furniture for a home, there are all kinds of things you can buy online these days, and we’re not talking about the real stuff. We’re talking about the goods you buy for games. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds that just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it won’t cost you!

Alec Wisnefski knows quite a bit about online games. He says, “It’s really cool. You got to do this mission. You have to find coins and you win money from that.”

Well, you don’t win real money, of course. Though in some games you may spend real money to add furniture to your house, or berries for your farm. Again, not real furniture, or real berries. These are virtual goods. Alec’s father Ken says, “It’s a little bit concerning. My two year old daughter almost purchased about $20 dollars worth of bushels of Smurfberries all on her own.”

Ken isn’t the only parent surprised by how simple it is to spend real money on these popular sites and games promoted as being free. Mary Heston of WiredMom says, “Kids could go online and play this game. They could buy things on the game, 50 cents for an extra wheelbarrow, and that would make my game go faster.” The games do ask that you input a password the first time you purchase an item using an online account. Then, with most games, for a set period of time you can skip the password and just click buy! Heston says, “All of a sudden parents were finding $75 charges that they had no idea were on this game.” And the amount can shoot into the hundreds if your child continues to hit buttons he may not even be able to read yet.

There are ways to prevent this. Just set your device to block in-app purchases. It’s literally an off switch under settings. the problem is, most people don’t know they have this option until after the bills start coming.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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