ADVERTISEMENT

Parents shouldn't pay for child's late card payments

By

Credit Score Report
Reporter Jeremy M. Simon
Jeremy M. Simon is a former staff reporter for CreditCards.com who covered credit reporting and scoring issues.

Ask a question.

'Credit Score Report' stories

Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Credit Score Report,
My son gave us a credit card. He has since deleted us from the account. It is his account though. He is late on the monthly payments, yet this shows up on our credit report. What can we do? -- Theodore

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Hey Theodore ,
As an authorized user on your son's credit card, his account activity -- both positive and negative -- can appear on your credit report. Once you are removed from that card, however, any account information listed on your credit report should also get removed. While that may take more time and require more effort than you'd like, it will benefit you in the long run.

"If they were authorized users, the information should not appear on their credit reports," says Steve Katz, spokesman for credit bureau TransUnion. "If they were joint account holders who have been removed, the information would appear on their report. Negative information will remain on a report for seven years," Katz says. Joint account holders share both the responsibility for debt repayment and credit score impact of that debt.

Although you should check with the bank, it sounds like your son had previously listed you as authorized users on his credit card, meaning you aren't legally responsible for repaying your son's debt. Based on that arrangement, the bank reported account information to the credit bureaus, which in turn listed that data on credit reports for the primary cardholder (your son) and the authorized users (you and your wife). That's not unusual, since many families use this "piggybacking" technique to help build the credit histories or improve the credit scores of their relatives. However, such arrangements can also turn sour, as it apparently did in your case, Theodore. That's because any credit mistakes made by the primary cardholders can be listed on the authorized users' credit histories, with a 30-day late payment dropping a FICO score by up to 110 points. Luckily, getting removed from an account means those negative items should eventually fall off the authorized users' credit reports.

As the primary cardholder, your son has the power to remove you from his account. That's a power you have, too: A CreditCards.com survey of authorized user removal policies showed that American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase and Citi allow the removal of authorized users with a call or letter, while Wells Fargo requires a phone call followed by a written request. While the issuer should remove you from the card immediately, it can take a month or two before the authorized account information disappears from your credit report. If it's only been days or weeks since your son deleted you from the account, additional patience may be necessary. "The authorized user account should be removed very quickly. However, we encourage the customer to allow 30 days to be certain the information is removed. Doing so allows time for a complete billing cycle to end, ensuring the information is no longer part of the report after a complete update period," says Rod Griffin, director of public education with credit bureau Experian.

But what if you've been waiting for some time -- or just want to speed up the process? In that case, contact the major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- and let them know that although you have been removed from your son's account, the account information remains on your credit reports. Also, just to be safe, call your son's bank and make sure they are no longer sending card information to the credit bureaus for inclusion on your reports.  

Then, you'll need to wait once more. After some time has passed, you should again pull your credit reports. Double-check that the bureaus did, in fact, remove the negative information stemming from your son's late payments. If they didn't fulfill your request, you'll need to contact them again and repeat the process. Don't give up on making sure his late payments won't damage your credit.

Whether or not your son is responsible with his credit, the power to protect yourself remains in your hands.

Good luck.

-- Jeremy 

See related: How to dispute credit report errorsFree credit reports: How to get the actual free one, Cardholders' mistakes can bring down authorized users' credit scorePiggybacking, meant to jump-start credit, can backfireFICO reveals how common credit mistakes affect scores, Decade-old credit mistakes shouldn't appear on your report 

Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts

Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday, CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.

 

Published: April 6, 2010


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Follow Us


Updated: 09-29-2016


Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.


ADVERTISEMENT