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PSA: PIN protect your Amazon Echo to prevent unwanted purchases

After a six-year-old girl who used Alexa to order a doll’s house and four pounds of cookies, it might be time to set up a PIN for your Amazon Echo.
By
January 9, 2017
Amazon Echo pictured above.

It might be time to set up a PIN code for your Amazon Echo following a string of incidences regarding unwanted purchases. News broke yesterday of a six-year-old girl who used Alexa to order a doll’s house and 64 ounces of cookies, trailed by a news anchor — reporting on the story — inadvertently creating similar requests in other households.

The Dallas girl made the accidental purchase when talking to Alexa, reputedly asking: “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” During the exchange, Alexa ordered the products, costing the girl’s family $170 before the story later appeared on news channels.

When a reporter from San Diego’s CW6 News commented on the incident, stating: “Alexa ordered me a dollhouse,” some Echo units in homes where the broadcast was being watched took those words as an order request.

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It’s believed that none of those resulted in a confirmed purchase, however the ease of buying items an Amazon Echo product might cause you to consider setting up a PIN or turning voice orders off altogether (visit echo.amazon.com and log in with your Amazon account details to change your Alexa preferences). If you do create a PIN, note that Alexa will require you to say it out load to place an order; try not to say it when your kids are around.

The Amazon Echo Dot also recently made headlines after misinterpreting a request from a toddler. Alexa said: “You want to hear a station for ‘Porn’ detected,” before announcing a string of lewd words. Seemingly, the child had actually wanted Alexa to play a nursery rhyme.