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Daughter's card abuse hurts mom as authorized user

By

To Her Credit
To Her Credit, Sally Herigstad
Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and the author of "Help! I Can't Pay My Bills: Surviving a Financial Crisis" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). She writes "To Her Credit," a weekly reader Q&A column about issues involving women, credit and debt, for CreditCards.com, and also wrote for MSN Money, Interest.com and Bankrate.com, and has guested on Martha Stewart Radio and other programs. See her website SallyHerigstad.com for more personal finance tips and free budgeting worksheets.
Ask Sally a question, or read her previous answers in the To Her Credit archive
Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear To Her Credit,
I am listed as an authorized user on a credit card that was closed after being delinquent more than 90 days. I have never used the account and was listed as an authorized user only to ask questions about my daughter's account. I had my daughter add me to the account because the credit card company would not talk to me unless she did.

I would like to be removed from the account as an authorized user because it is now listed as an adverse account on my credit listing.

Will the credit card company remove me as an authorized user if I request this in writing to them? Do I need my daughter to sign my request to have me removed from the account? -- Pam

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Pam,
Yes, you can have your daughter remove you as an authorized user from her account. Many people who have an adverse credit card standing also have issues with getting things done promptly. I hope your daughter is an exception. Otherwise, while you're waiting for her to take you off the account, your credit is being dinged.

Fortunately, the credit card company cannot keep you on the account as an authorized user if you request in writing to be taken off. This only makes sense. Just think of possibilities if people could add you to their cards and you couldn't get yourself off! People could even add you to an account with ill intent and destroy your credit score.

If you were a joint account holder, getting off the account wouldn't be so easy. Credit card companies approve accounts based on the information from both joint cardholders. When one cardholder wants out, the bank may choose to continue the card with just the other cardholder or to require the remaining cardholder to get approval on his own. If the card has a balance, a joint account holder cannot just be dropped from a card and not be liable for the amount due.

In retrospect, you can see that having yourself added to a card that's already in trouble just so you can talk to the credit card company is a bad idea. If your daughter is having trouble managing her finances, you can help her in other ways without damaging your own credit.

If she is just having a problem with one account, you can help her determine the best way to pay off the account. Our payoff calculator can help her figure how long it will take based on different monthly payments and interest rates.

If she needs help getting her financial life on track, many churches, community centers, libraries and community colleges now offer financial seminars. You might want to go with her and lend encouragement.

If your daughter's credit problems are serious, consider helping her find an accredited, nonprofit credit counseling agency. A good counselor can teach her things that she might not want to hear from Mom, plus counselors have helped many other people get their finances under control. If she does need credit counseling, I recommend she go sooner rather than later.

It's not unusual for even the most responsible young people to fall into a financial trap or two when they're starting out. It's like getting your first ticket when you start driving -- sometimes that helps us learn to avoid problems in the future. If she receives good financial advice and learns how to solve her own financial problems now, she'll be much better off in the future.

See related: Piggybacking, meant to jump-start credit, can backfire, Authorized users don't have to pay for cardholder's missteps, How being an authorized user can hurt your credit score, 8 steps to picking a credit counselor

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Published: January 8, 2010


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