With Amazon's Alexa shipping on more and more devices, the digital assistant will become common in many homes. Alexa can do a lot of things but one function can rack up large bills if parents aren't careful. Alexa can be used to order items on her creator's website, Amazon. This is a handy feature if you're in the kitchen or around the house and want to order something you've run out of but without putting the proper safeguards in place can come back to bite you.

Kids have shown that they either don't understand that ordering things uses real-world money or for whatever other reason have racked up big bills on their parent's phones. A similar trend could happen with Amazon's Alexa. There are a couple options parents can take to make sure that their kids don't make any unwanted orders through Alexa-powered devices such as the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Show, and Amazon Echo Look.

These options are especially important because Amazon's line of Echo devices has voice purchasing turned on by default. The voice controls on Alexa are sensitive enough that when a girl on a TV show tried to order something Alexa devices of viewers tried to make the same purchase. Alexa always asks to confirm a purchase with a year or no but if a person was confused or a child was trying to make an order one could easily be made.

There are two main options, adding a PIN to confirm purchases or turning voice purchases off. To change these settings you need to use the Alexa app.

Add a pin to confirm purchases

This is the only option that still allows Alexa to be used to make purchases while still putting in place some limitations.

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Tap the hamburger menu button (the one with three horizontal lines)
  3. Tap the gear icon for settings
  4. Tap "voice purchasing"
  5. Tap the area to enter a confirmation code and select a PIN
  6. Tap "save changes"

After doing this your device that is powered by Alexa will require you to say your PIN to make a purchase. To keep the use of a PIN meaningful you shouldn't say it around people you are trying to prevent making purchases or you'll need to change your password.

Turn of voice purchases

Another option is to turn off voice purchases altogether. This is more dramatic and effectively removes a feature that Alexa-powered devices come with but if you still want to use a device like the Amazon Echo for other things but not have the option to purchase items with your voice you can do so easily.

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Tap the hamburger menu button (the one with three horizontal lines)
  3. Tap the gear icon for settings
  4. Tap "voice purchasing"
  5. Toggle the switch next to "purchase by voice" to off

The settings are easy to access and can always be switched again if you change your mind or your circumstances change. Doing this protects you from getting surprising bills from Amazon and having unwanted items show up at your door.