Bank of America Gives 6-Year-Old A Credit Card

Didn’t you hate not having access to credit when you were 6? Today’s kids don’t have to suffer like you did. Meet Bennett Christiansen of Aurora, IL. He’s got a shiny new Bank of America credit card with a $600 limit.

From CBS2 Chicago:

Amy Christiansen said her entire family had been receiving credit card applications addressed to each member of her family, including Bennett, who has since turned 6, and Christiansen’s 3-year-old child.

Christiansen said she decided to allow Bennett to fill out a credit card application from Bank of America. He accurately wrote in his birthday in 2002, his annual income of $0, and the fact that he is an “other,” that is, neither a homeowner nor a renter. He signed his name in writing that was obviously that of a child, she said.

A short time later, Christiansen said she received a credit card with Bennett’s name on it.

Christiansen was left baffled, and troubled by the ease with which the application was apparently accepted.

Yes, Bennett signed up and was approved for a credit card. Bank of America has responded: “We do not knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor,” [a spokesperson] said.

Hey, look at the bright side. Assuming a 24% interest rate and a 2.5% minimum payment, Bankrate’s minimum payment calculator says that Bennett can have his $600 paid off by the time he’s 19.5! (Yeah, we know, even 6-year-olds know not to just pay the minimum payment… it’s still kinda funny.)

Mom Shocked When 6-Year-Old Gets Credit Card
[CBS2] (Thanks, Bill!)

Comments

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  1. InThrees says:

    I thought the “my dog got a platinum card” stories died in the 80s / early 90s.

    Good for you BoA, trying to bring that back.

  2. humphrmi says:

    Wow. Just wow. I went into the story thinking it was one of those “My six year old son got a credit application, so I filled it out for him, and he got a card!” But no, the six year old filled out the application in his own handwriting, and still got a card.

    Bank of America has responded: “We do not knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor,” [a spokesperson] said.

    So, uh… didn’t the six year fill in his year of birth as 2002? Do you have an alternative definition of “knowingly”??? It seems pretty clear to me that BofA will, indeed, knowingly issue a credit card to a minor.

  3. DeadlySinz says:

    HAHAHAHAHA. priceless

  4. plasticredtophat says:

    Well…good to know some one will give my 5 year old credit for that PS3 he’s been wanting.

  5. howie_in_az says:

    @humphrmi: A computer usually checks the applications — from what I understand, very rarely does a human intervene. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a computer to do math??? We’re working with 4-digit numbers here, that takes time to program in! God help you if it’s in COBOL or some wacky language like that. Even math in other languages like C, C++, Java, Objective-C, it’s not like you can just use the + and – symbols to accomplish things. And then comparing that result to a known business rule, like “make sure credit cards aren’t issued to anyone under the age of 18″, I mean, come on now, that’s rocket science stuff! We’re years away from being able to accomplish these sorts of things without involving NASA.

  6. RevRagnarok says:

    @plasticredtophat: I vaguely remember something about not being able to enter a legal contract until 16 or 18 or something… Free PS3? ;)

  7. MikeB says:

    Hey, look at the bright side. Assuming a 24% interest rate and a 2.5% minimum payment, Bankrate’s minimum payment calculator says that Bennett can have his $600 paid off by the time he’s 19.5! (Yeah, we know, even 6-year-olds know not to just pay the minimum payment… it’s still kinda funny.)

    Actually, if I am not mistaken, as a minor he would not be responsible for paying anything back.

  8. tankertodd says:

    Someone in the Card division really screwed up. How did the kid pass the credit check? I wonder if they put the kid’s SSN on the app or one of the parent’s. This is really an example of a process screw-up rather than a liberal credit policy. From what I’ve heard BAC is tightening Card standards, which makes this all the more strange.

  9. sean77 says:

    You think he’d be asked to show ID when he tried to make a purchase?

  10. ffmariners says:

    Someone contact slickdeals and fatwallet.

  11. RChris173 says:

    That is funny. The same thing happened to me with Capital One. I started receiving credit card applications in the mail from them, pre-approved too. I must admit, it was sneaky of them to entice me into it because I had a secured card from my credit union which probably created my credit record. I believe it is default that the credit breaus sell information to creditors and one has the option to opt-out by telephone or by mail permanently. It turns out this is very common and there is a web site that specifically mentions minors may receive these applications: (It is also possible that fraud may have occured on the child’s name and SS# and should have credit reports looked to see about that.)

    [www.ftc.gov]

    [www.optoutprescreen.com]

    How do I complete an Opt-Out request by mail for a child under 13 years of age?
    The Consumer Credit Reporting Companies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children. If you suspect that your minor child’s information has been used fraudulently, you should contact the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies directly and report the illegal use of your child’s information to law enforcement. If you want to complete an Opt-Out request for your minor child because of concerns relating to fraud, please supply each Consumer Credit Reporting Company with your child’s complete name, address, date of birth and a copy of the minor child’s birth certificate and social security card. Additionally, please provide a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of your identity, which includes your current address so the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies may promptly respond to your request. The addresses for the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are listed below:

    Equifax
    P.O. Box 740256
    Atlanta, Georgia 30374

    Experian
    P.O. Box 9532
    Allen, Texas 75013

    Innovis Consumer Assistance
    P.O. Box 725
    Columbus, OH 43216-0725

    TransUnion
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834

  12. lmulaire says:

    And i thought i started getting credit young..

  13. ffmariners says:

    @lmulaire: :) Yeah I got my first credit card @ 16, cosigned with my dad. He thought it was important to teach me the value and responsibilities of credit from a young age.

    I think its worked out well.

  14. kushboy says:

    So, couldn’t the kid spend all he wants and then rescind his contract before paying any of it back. Contracts aren’t binding for minors.

  15. WraithSama says:

    Didn’t Madonna give a $10,000 limit credit card to her kid when they were 6 or 10 or something “to teach financial responsibility”?

  16. SayAhh says:

    @WraithSama: I hope it was a debit card and not a real credit card.

    Wow, the six-year-old sure has a big head start on a good credit history. Imagine the following scenario:

    Loan officer: we cannot approve your new car loan.
    18-year-old: why not?
    Loan officer: (with a straight face) it seems that you’ve missed a payment ten years ago.

  17. timmus says:

    “We do not knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor,” [a spokesperson] said.

    Liar. The article said right there that the 2002 birthday was filled in on the application.

  18. katylostherart says:

    @timmus: bingo. seriously? do they even READ the things they’re responding to? christ at least have your secretary paraphrase or outline the important parts before you make the statement.

  19. witeowl says:

    @RevRagnarok: Pretty much correct. There’s an episode of Judge Alex where the minor had agreed to a really low settlement for the damage from an accident she had caused. Then, in court, dad kept stomping his feet and saying she was a minor and couldn’t agree to a contract. Judge Alex supressed a chuckle, agreed, and rescinded the contract… leaving the daughter (thus father) responsible for the greater, full cost of the damage.

    Back to the OT, I got tired of promotional offers from Amex when I was twelve, so I sent in a truthful application. I was turned down due to my age. I didn’t imagine that I was actually too old! (Annoyingly enough, this didn’t stop the offers.)

    But this clearly exposes a very troubling lack of security with promotional offers. I expect someone at BofA to take this seriously.

  20. Gadgetgirl says:

    I almost told my 9 y.o. daughter AKA the ‘I want a Nintendo Wii, laser tag party, iPod Touch, newer phone, etc… for my birthday Princess’ this story as she heard me chuckle at the silliness of this happening. I wisely clammed up.

  21. B says:

    @InThrees: Hopefully Bennett can use the same credit counseling service as Santos L. Halper if he gets in trouble. Otherwise, he’ll be unable to enjoy things such as home ownership, boat ownership, and event attendance.

  22. Joedragon says:

    @B:
    credit counseling service was the repo depo.

  23. plasticredtophat says:

    @sean77: No, my brother in laws, who are 13 and 15 use their moms all the time, and never get ided. Wouldn’t you ask for id if a 13 yr old boy, bought something with a woman’s name on the card?..

  24. Echomatrix says:

    Santos L Halper come to mind?

  25. Bladefist says:

    man all you guys are ageist.

  26. No wonder my drooling Bassett Hound was so popular with all the cool cats in the neighborhood ….. she had a CC and I never knew about it.

  27. Me - now with more humidity says:

    He’ll just spend it on LEGOs 8-)

  28. TorrentFreak says:

    Great now he can be well on his way to getting terrible credit just like me.

  29. SayAhh says:

    I miss “Married…with Children.” Remember the episode where Buck the dog got a credit card? That dog can act! Even though all he did was move his eyebrows :)

  30. ShirtNinja says:

    Man, BoA is giving credit cards to 6-year-olds, and I can barely get a bloody secured card!

    I live in the wrong damn country.

  31. digitalgimpus says:

    This isn’t really surprising. Many parents do this when they ruin their own credit. Since it takes longer to rebuild than to start over in many cases.

    Problem is they always fail again.

    That’s why you hear “RIAA sues 5 year old girl”… because the stupid ass parents used a credit card in their daughters name to pay for their internet access. When the RIAA requests the info for the IP, they get the billing info… which yea, 5 year old.

  32. wring says:

    @InThrees: lol this was an episode of Married with Children.

  33. ShirtNinja says:

    There was also an ep of The Simpsons like this, where Bart filled out a CC App under Santa’s Little Helper. Santos L. Halper.

  34. humphrmi says:

    @howie_in_az: I knew it was just a matter of time before someone would blame the OP (Original Programmer)…

  35. How did they not “knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor?”

    Allow me to explain and give you some insight into how the minds of corporate executives work:

    Low-level employee: We are not allowed to solicit minors. But it makes buying data and processing a hassle.

    Executive: Can we ask to buy the date WITHOUT birthdates?

    LL: Well, uh, hmm. You mean the vendors to take OUT the birthdates of minors? I don’t know if that would be eth-

    Executive: Then let’s do that.

    LL: But the law, I don’t know if-

    Executive: You’re fired.

  36. How did they not “knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor?”

    Allow me to explain and give you some insight into how the minds of corporate executives work:

    Low-level employee: We are not allowed to solicit minors. But it makes buying data and processing a hassle.

    Executive: Can we ask to buy the data WITHOUT birthdates?

    LL: Well, uh, hmm. You mean get the vendors to take OUT the birthdates of minors? I don’t know if that would be eth-

    Executive: Then let’s do that.

    LL: But the law, I don’t know if-

    Executive: You’re fired.

  37. greghayden70 says:

    Bank of America representative who was quoted is full of shit. The more mailers they send the less tax liability they have. Mailers are very expensive when you look at the big picture so then they can use that expense as a deduction.

  38. NotATool says:

    @RevRagnarok: Bingo. A minor (under 18) cannot enter into a legal contract. The kid can (AND SHOULD) charge the $600 limit and owe nothing.

    1) The company solicited credit to a minor.
    2) The minor responded to their offer, using their true birthdate, and was granted credit.

    Stupid bank. I say stick it to them.

  39. Amy Alkon000 says:

    “Stupid” isn’t the half of it in my experience. “Mind-blowingly negligent” is another term I’d use to describe Bank of America’s approach to securing the money in your account.

    Bank of America tellers gave away $12,000 of my money in seven separate occasions, and in remote places I never bank and have never even been, and in a pattern that is not mine (I never go to teller windows, never take out large sums of cash). On at least one of these occasions (in Dixon City, California, where they gave away $1,500 of my money), the perp was a woman with missing teeth with a fake driver’s license in my name, with the wrong expiration date.

  40. BlackFlag55 says:

    Bank of Apatheists

  41. seamer says:

    Since people are remininscing about Married…with Children, the Bundys got screwed in the end since they actively used and signed the reciepts for Buck’s card, which does become a binding contract.

    Yes, little Jimmy will be able to get himself down to the nearest mall and everything without his shocked mother knowing how he managed it.

  42. darksunfox says:

    Capital One gave me a credit card the second I turned 16… 6 is a bit excessive though.

  43. modelchick8806 says:

    Ha! She’s truly naive. People have been using their own kid’s credit to buy things for years! Terrible but true.

  44. krispykrink says:

    This isn’t all that surprising. When I turned 16 in 1990 and got my DL, I started getting pre-approved offers for a Chevron card. I accepted and was given a $600 limit.

    Not more than 2 months later I got the same offers for a Discover Card w/$2,000 limit, Wells Fargo Master Card w/$2,500 limit, and a Mervyn’s card. I accepted them all and kept them all in good standing.

    Friend of mine got similar offers but he saw it as free money and never paid any of the bills. He thought that since he was under 18 they couldn’t enforce the contract. Little did he know that when you’re under 18, your parents are responsible and they had to pay. He ended up having to sell his car, and give his parents every cent of his pay check for a year before he paid them all back.

  45. rockasocky says:

    @kushboy: Doesn’t that depend on the jurisdiction? I think in some places the sellers would be entitled to quantum meruit. I think.

  46. geoelectric says:

    Thing is, I don’t think the parents are automatically responsible. In this case, they might be, since they “helped” with the application.

    However, in the “my 15yo got a card without my knowledge” case, it’d be unforseeable and thus not parental negligence.

    As far as I know, no negligence, no liability–you’re not automatically on the hook for your kid’s actions unless you could have forseen and prevented them. I imagine this’d be doubly true if the kid was honest on the application and got the card anyway, since the issuer should have been alert.

    Of course, you’d probably have to give the stuff back. So, kids, if you ever do this yourself, hookers and beer. Or amusement parks and pop. Just, blow the money, don’t buy stuff. :)

    Which isn’t to say that the credit card company wouldn’t -tell- parents they’re completely responsible. But they can tell you whatever they want, and often do.

  47. Breach says:

    Gah, I’ve banked with these assholes for 3 years and the most credit I am able to get is $800!

  48. Nick1693 says:

    @plasticredtophat: Does anyone ID anymore? I’ve been getting these for years. (I’m 13…) Sorta makes me want to go down to 7-11 and try to get on e of their credit cards by the mail in application. (Not pre-approved)

    I can imagine it now (For the 6 year old, not me) “Mommy, look what Bank of America’s stupidity gave me!”

  49. choinski says:

    I guess the credit crisis is over nad we can resume high risk lending to anyone willing to spend it. Hooray!

  50. yargrnhoj says:

    BOA is taking ‘Bank of Opportunity’ a little too far going after the six-year-old market.

    I just hope the kid doesn’t try to use his card at CVS — he’ll have to stand in a long line.

  51. chrisexv6 says:

    Hmm, handing out credit to those who shouldnt (probably :) ) have it…..isnt that what got our economy into the mess its currently in?

    Thank you BOA!!

  52. Pro-Pain says:

    Here’s how this kid is getting his Playstation 3. Good for him!

  53. Angryrider says:

    Fantastic BoA. Next thing you know you’re going to allow paramecium to fill out credit cards.

  54. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Max that shit out, then call up and tell BoA they’ve entered into a contract with a minor. The minor, being unable to understand the contract, would be under no obligation to pay.

    IANAL, but I’m pretty darn sure that’s how contract law works.

  55. ViperBorg says:

    So THAT’s the company that gave Santa (Santos) Little Helper a credit card in The Simpsons. Now we know.

  56. Asvetic says:

    Boy, if he keeps it open his credit score is going to rock. Getting loans for college will be a piece of cake.

  57. mike says:

    I remember when I was a college student, I wrote that I had a negative income. I even put down the wrong SSN. They *STILL* issued me a credit card with a $3,000 limit.

    I laughed when I called to cancel the card. I got a free T-Shirt out of it.

    Kids: don’t do what I did. The free T-shirt ripped after about two washes.

  58. radiochief says:

    Credit Card Given To Dog > Credit Card Given To 6 Year Old.

    [www.nbcsandiego.com]

  59. Qazaq says:

    My 2-year-old daughter received a booklet with her name on it inviting her to visit Borgata Casino, Atlantic City. That booklet had a coupon she can use playing in the casino.

  60. ZekeSulastin says:

    @WiglyWorm: You should get in touch with the friend of krispykrink and ask how that worked out for him.

  61. dragonfire1481 says:

    This is a perfect example of why the housing market went belly up, credit card companies and loan companies really don’t give a crap who they lend to.

    Or in some cases, didn’t used to.

  62. BlackFlag55 says:

    Just occurred to me that Bank of America may well be associated with NAMBLA.

    Same philosophy.

    If you don’t get that, don’t ask.

  63. farside808 says:

    she should spend her heart’s desire. when they come to collect, she can avoid it by incapacity to enter into a contract. They do not “knowingly” give cards to minors? if the application, and their records, indicate a birth year of 2002, then they are knowingly issuing credit cards to minors. It takes a simple computer program to say “error: underage. do not issue credit card.”

    stupid banks.

  64. BeeBoo says:

    Thirty years ago, I used to sign my cat George up for different things, for example, the Burger King and Baskin Robbins clubs, to get the coupons they sent at your birthday.

    He eventually got a couple of credit cards mailed to him–back then you didn’t even have to apply, they would just mail them to you unsolicited for you to activate.

    George didn’t care but when my mother found out about the credit cards, she made me stop completely. :(

  65. farside808 says:

    WigglyWorm: IAAL, and that is how it works. Though it will take a lot of paperwork and aggrivation for $600 in JellyBelly’s, or whatever a 6 year old will buy with a credit card.

  66. CristianoAte says:

    @howie_in_az:
    Maybe it would be more acceptable for a computer program to hand out a
    credit card to a dog but it isnt that hard to program a computer to
    calculate age and to tell it not to accept ages that are above or below
    certain limits… do you even know how to program???

  67. GothamGal says:

    I’ve been a customer with BofA for 8 years and my CC limit isn’t much higher. I’m jealous.

  68. sean77 says:

    @krispykrink: all I got when I got my driver’s license was a draft card and a razor.

    Could’ve used a credit card back then.

  69. Lucky225 says:

    “We do not knowingly solicit or grant credit to a minor,” [a spokesperson] said.

    Apparently your employees can’t recognize that a date of birth in 2002 is not 18 years? Funny how BofA knowingly can do math to nickle & dime you on everything, but when it comes to subtraction they’re idiots? God help you if your 6 year old wants a pack of cigs from an ex-BofA employee at the convenient mart — because lets face it if the people processing the application can’t do simple math, and the people who program the computer software to process the application can’t restrict date of births earlier than 18 years before today, then you can guess where they’ll be working next.

  70. AMetamorphosis says:

    @BeeBoo:

    I filled out online surveys for American Express and got 5 dollar prepaid cards in my dogs name and lots of dead relatives …

    course that was years ago when 5 dollars got you @ least two gallons :-(

  71. god_forbids says:

    State law varies on minors’ liability for torts. Parents become liable for the torts of their children only upon the second offense, because they lack knowledge to prevent such an occurrence. Food for thought.