I thought I would have a few more years until I had to deal with this, but the other day I was shocked to see that my nine-year-old daughter received a credit card offer in the mail for a student account. I have no idea where they got her information because everything that she is signed up for is in either me or my wife’s name and email address.
Naturally the Papa Bear instincts kicked in and I called the credit card company. Thankfully when I told them her age they quickly realized they had made a mistake, apologized, and took her name off their list for any future offers. The service rep could not answer how her name got there on the credit card offer list in the first place.
I was glad to see that at a minimum her credit card offer application wasn’t pre-approved, because that would be really ridiculous. Right now her only source of income is her bi-weekly allowance from cleaning her room and feeding the pets.
Didn’t Financial Institutions Learn Their Lesson Yet?
We were certainly not the first family this has happened to. Other parents have been shocked to see their kids receive a credit card offer in the mail. In some instances it may indicate that their identity has been stolen!
Obviously there is a problem with the system here. Everyone knows that credit card companies aggressively target college students and young adults that are just starting out (and likely to rack up large balances to which they can collect hefty interest fees upon).
However, I would have thought that after the Great Recession of 08’ that a little more discretion would be used. Rather than just soliciting everyone to fill out a credit card offer application, perhaps maybe there might be some quality standards in place to filter out people such as nine-year-olds. Maybe I’m expecting too much.
The Credit Card Offer – Marketing Towards Vulnerability:
Thankfully I’ve never had a problem with credit cards. I owe it to my Dad explaining to me at age 18 the basics of how quickly the interest charges can compound into an amount that you’ll never be able to pay off. And with that, I’ve always lived by very simple rules:
1) Never buy anything I couldn’t just otherwise buy with cash
2) Pay off my balance in full every month
That simple strategy has transformed years of purchases into a growing basket of credit card bonus rewards; this year topping out at over $1,000. When used properly a credit card be a major convenience.
But what about the kids and young adults without fathers, mothers, or people in their lives they can trust to protect them from these types of mistakes with credit card offers? Young adults are especially so anxious to prove their independence as adults that they neglect to seek advice on commitments such as this. But the devastation can be very real and take a long to fix.
So as stewards of financial knowledge, I see this as an obligation to protect those we know from bear-traps such as this. We can’t stop marketers from sending mail, emails, advertising on TV and in magazines, etc. But we can prepare our children, nieces, and nephews with the information they need to make good choices. Even if you don’t tell them directly, you should at least let them know that the invitation exists should they ever need your advice.
So for now, I hope to not see another credit card offer for my nine-year-old daughter. Papa Bear is watching!
Readers – Has anyone else’s kids received a credit card offer in the mail, at a ridiculously young age?
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