You may do everything you can to protect your credit card information, even from your family. The reason you protect that information is that you do not want any fraudulent charges being made that you may have to pay for. The revelation that someone has taken your credit card information and used it to pay for a night at an upscale hotel in France is something that can make you lose your mind. Learning that your child has taken your card and used it to play online poker might make you feel even worse. At least when a fraudulent charge is made on your card, you can claim fraud. When your child uses your card, the only thing you can claim is that you needed to lock it up in a safe that they can’t access at all.
What should you do if your child takes your credit card and makes a purchase? Well, fraud is fraud despite who does it. Many cards have zero-liability policies that cover their cardholders when cards are lost, stolen, or counterfeit. If a card is stolen and used without the permission of the cardholder, the cardholder is not responsible for paying for the fraudulent charges. There are, however, exceptions to the rule and these exceptions can make for some rather difficult situations once the fraud is revealed.
What the credit card company will say is that cardholders have a responsibility to protect their cards. This responsibility is outlined in the terms and agreement, which includes not sharing the PIN. In other words, if your 14-year-old daughter has your PIN in order to make a transaction you are allowing her to make and then she uses it without permission months later, you are going to be paying the cost.
4 Steps You Should Do if Your Child Uses a Card Without Your Permission
If your child took your card and PIN without your permission, there may be steps that you can take to keep from being responsible for the charges. In the meantime, you can teach your child a very valuable lesson.
Informing the card issuer
The moment you notice that transactions have been made on the card without your permission, let the credit card issuer know as soon as possible so the account can be frozen. This will give you time to find out the facts behind the transaction. Once you know the facts, you can make the decision of whether or not you want the charges to be reduced.
Finding out the facts
You will have to ask your child a lot of questions. What you ask depends on age and what the intention behind the usage of the card was. A 14-year-old using a credit card to buy a new iPad is much different than an 8-year-old who accidentally racks up a few dollars in Apple iStore charges because they may have been playing games on your phone. The young children are still learning what they can and cannot do; the teenager knows what they did.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to explain to your child why they shouldn’t use your credit card information without your permission. They should know that such an action can hurt you financially, which, in turn, can hurt them. If your child has bought items for virtual games, you cannot give the merchandise back, but you can alert the company that your child bought them from and keep your child from using the game. It is still possible for you to make a case and have the charges reversed.
Call the Police
Whether or not you call the police is something that will take heavy consideration. You will need to take a look at the big picture because alerting the authorities on your own child may not be what you want to do. The reason is that the offense could cost you in some ways too. However, a teen stealing from you multiple times with this being one of them means making that telephone call and showing your teen the seriousness of the offense. There are also times when the credit card company will require a crime reference number before they will reverse the charges. If the charge is a large one that you simply cannot afford, calling the police so you can receive the crime reference number may be the only way.
In the meantime, the authorities may have a way your teen can be punished for what they did. The punishment can be just enough to get the point across, but not enough of one to follow your child into their adult years or have them labeled as a criminal. Sometimes when you are not taken seriously, you have to do something so you are taken seriously even if that something is an extreme act.
The last thing is to make sure the act does not happen again. One of the best ways to keep kids on the right path is to not allow them to be tempted to steal through credit card charges. This means that you may want to invest in that safe or a lockbox so you can stash your credit cards. You will also need to keep your PIN secret. Consistent monitoring of credit card information will also help you catch any fraudulent charges on your account. For further examination, you can acquire a copy of your credit report from TransUnion or Equifax once per year so that any fraud, despite who did it, can be caught. By catching fraud, you can keep yourself from paying very difficult consequences in the future.
It can be difficult if your child is the one who makes fraudulent charges on your credit card. Fortunately, there are instances when something can be done. Other times, you may find yourself paying the charges depending on the decisions you make about the situation.