If you have a voice controlled Amazon Alexa product in your home, you've no doubt heard those stories of children ordering hundreds of dollars of toys simply by asking Alexa for them. If a household has their Amazon account linked to their Alexa device, it's actually something that's quite easy to do. Now it seems that parents are having the same sort of issue when simply discussing Christmas present options for their children in front of their Alexas.
Matt Horan of C3IA solutions, a leading cyber security expert is warning parents to be vigilant about what they talk about when near their Alexa devices or other home assistant devices that are linked to shopping sites because they can inadvertently assume those conversations are actual orders.
"With Christmas approaching I can foresee many people answering doors to delivery drivers with packages that the person knows nothing about - and which their 'home helper' has ordered for them," Horan explained, reported The Sun. He couldn't help but comment on the irony of these home assistant devices. "Last year these virtual assistants were enormously popular Christmas presents and this year they might be ordering the families' presents for them."
Horan suggests that even having a basic conversation about Christmas in front of your Alexa or Google Home device can result in a few surprise deliveries being made to your front door. He suggests that if you want to avoid any unexpected purchases, made either by a parent or a quick thinking child, it's best to turn off the ability to make purchases via voice command. He also says if you don't want to do that, at least set up a passcode that can help prevent random orders from being placed.
"And of course they can be turned off when you are having detailed discussions about potential items you might want," he added.
The Daily Mail reports that one couple was simply discussing the details of a tent they wanted to buy when their home assistant device went ahead and ordered one for them. While surprise gifts arriving at the front door can be exciting for some people, it can be quite a headache when you're the one who has to pay for them!
Thankfully Amazon provides returns free of charge for all products ordered accidentally. While these home virtual assistant devices can definitely make life easier for many of us, we do have to be careful about what we say around them. If you're concerned about items being accidentally ordered it may be a good idea to disable the purchase feature, at least until the holidays are over.