Debt Before Puberty? Tween Credit Card Offer


When I read the headline about a 12-year-old getting a credit card offer, I thought, “Oh no. Not again. Another story of a kid, dog or dead person getting pre-approved for a credit card. Silly credit card companies will stop at nothing.”

But this time I actually read the entire CNNMoney story and it turns out the kid who got the card offer is at fault (in my opinion, at least). Did a credit card issuer really send a 12-year-old girl a solicitation for her business? Well, yes, technically it did -- but the daughter was also not being entirely honest.

The kid who got the card is the daughter of the reporter who wrote the story. She wrote, "I asked American Student List how it got my daughter’s name. Sure enough, she had clicked on one of those annoying pop-up ads promising a free gift. That took her to, a marketing site that sends out 'free' gifts to people who sign up for a variety of promotional offers. You have to be 18 to sign up — so my 12-year-old, eyes dazzled by the prospect of a free iPod, obligingly entered a fake birthdate."

I won't be the one to preach about the importance of honesty; if I were 12 years old, I would probably commit most of the seven deadly sins to get my hands on a free MP3 player. But can a credit card company, which buys its leads in bulk from a group like American Student List, really be expected to individually vet every single lead before sending out promotional literature?

Sure, that'd be nice, but the manpower involved would probably bankrupt them. If we're going to attack "the Man" here, then fine, but let's do it with some perspective. The kid lied. She said what she needed to say to get the free iPod. It’s understandable, but she bears some of the responsibility here. If you disagree, let me know in the comments.

I wonder if she ever got the iPod. The story doesn’t say, which is too bad, given how close the reporter was to her source.

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