Credit Smart

Son made $6,000 in unauthorized card charges? Report it


There may be legal consequences for your son, but if you don’t, you’ll be on the hook for his charges

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Dear Credit Smart,

I let my 40-year-old son use my credit card number for an agreed upon single time use. He then charged $6,000 more on the card. What’s my recourse and what am I liable for? – Immat


Dear Immat,
The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers against unauthorized credit card charges, limiting the victim’s responsibility to $50. Because you did not authorize the additional charges, you need to immediately call your credit card company and report those charges as fraudulent. You should be aware that your credit card company will report the card stolen. In addition, they may ask that a police report be filed.

I understand that it may be difficult for you to bring charges against your son, but $6,000 is a lot of money. When you file the report, the police will investigate. It is very difficult to prove this type of case, so it might not go very far. What it will do, however, is get the charge removed from your account.

What may also happen is that the credit card company will pursue your son for payment.

If you are unwilling to bring charges against your son, you are likely to have very little recourse with your credit card company. At that point, you could be responsible for the entire amount. Short of filing charges, your best option is to work something out with your son to repay the debt.

No matter what happens, your son has racked up a $6,000 debt that won’t just go away on its own. However, you have the option to have it removed from your account and I would strongly suggest that you do what is necessary to protect yourself and your credit.

As for what will happen in the short term with your credit card, the card will be closed and a new card with a new number will be issued. This will happen fairly quickly, so be on the lookout for that in the mail. The last thing you want to happen is for the new card to fall into the wrong hands.

If another situation arises when you agree to let someone use your credit card, I would strongly suggest that you be the person that initiates the charge rather than giving your credit card to another person. This is the best way to know exactly what is being charged to your account.

Remember to always use your credit smarts!

See related:Why you should file a police report for card fraud, Who’s responsible for childrens’ unauthorized charges?, Familiar fraud: when family, friends steal your identity

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