Amazon.com Inc. Launches Its Echo Home Assistant In The U.K.
An attendee holds an "Echo Dot" device during the U.K. launch event for the Amazon.com Inc. Echo voice-controlled home assistant speaker in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Bloomberg via Getty Images

How to Stop the Amazon Echo From Buying Stuff

Updated: Jan 17, 2017 3:25 PM ET | Originally published: Jan 13, 2017

Correction appended Tuesday, Jan. 17

The Amazon Echo makes it easy to order products from the e-commerce giant — maybe too easy. After a local TV newscast about a six-year-old who reportedly ordered a dollhouse using her parents’ Echo, the anchorman said, “I love that little girl saying, 'Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.’” That phrase is said to have caused even more Echo devices in the area to begin to order dollhouses, as they heard the command from the TV and worked to carry out the command.

It isn’t clear how many of these orders were actually completed. (The Echo’s Alexa software requires users to verbally confirm orders.) Still, some Echo users, especially those with tech-savvy young children, may want to make it harder for the device to accidentally order products. Here’s how to do that.

Read more: The ultimate guide to the Amazon Echo

To adjust Amazon's voice purchasing settings, simply open the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet — you don't even need to be near your Echo device. Tap on the menu button on the app's top-left corner, and then tap on "Settings." Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page to the "Voice Purchasing" option and tap on it.

There are two ways you can adjust this setting. First, tapping on the toggle switch below "Purchase by voice" will enable or disable the feature entirely. (Blue means it's on, white means it's off.) Or you may want to add a failsafe to your voice purchasing. Entering a four-digit code under "Require confirmation code" will prompt Alexa to ask you to speak the number out loud after making a voice purchase to ensure the order was intentional.

All sales made through voice purchasing use your Amazon account's "1-Click" payment method, an option that you can also change through the Alexa app.

Changing the voice purchasing settings through the app will apply them to all your Amazon Alexa-compatible devices, whether it’s the Echo smart speaker, Echo Dot, or even third-party products.

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Correction: The original version of this story misstated the effect of the newscast on Amazon Echo devices. It’s unclear if the newscast caused any orders to be finalized.

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