Credit Card Offers For Minors

Monday, in response to my post on how credit cards were my biggest money mistake when I was a college freshman, reader blackneto sent me this email:

My 12 year old daughter received an offer for a credit card targeted at HS Seniors from 1st Financial Bank. (emphasis mine. -Ana)

I have a feeling she got it because  she’s been in several programs through the local Community College and they probably sold their enrollments to whomever sends these offers out. Or she entered a contest or drawing at one of the events she’s been to and the list was sold from there.

This is a scary situation!  I have very little doubt colleges are now selling their enrollments to credit card companies.  After all, they let them on campus throughout the school year for money, so selling the enrollment information is the natural progression (anyone have a link for this?).

It’s also extremely likely it came from a contest or giveaway.  Credit card companies are more than profitable enough to hold giveaways worth more than a free pizza, t-shirt, or hat (although that is usually all it takes to rope in the college freshmen).  It could very well be that the giveaway was sponsored by a credit card issuer, and the fine print might have said that you agree to receive solitations.  It wasn’t that long ago my son was 12 years old; I know they don’t read the fine print.

In my email response to blackneto, I suggested two things to help safeguard his daughter against identity theft:

  • going to and stopping any future credit cards offers.  I have done this myself for hubby and I.
  • If available in his state, putting a freeze on his daughter’s credit report until she reaches the age of 18.  There is absolutely no reason for a 12 year old to have any credit activity, so freezing her credit report is a good step to prevent identity theft for minors.

So with the safety issues taken care of, let’s step back for just one second.  Credit card companies have been targetting college students like nothing else for over a decade … but now they are going after high schoolers?  Are they going to start showing up on our kids’ doorsteps the morning they turn 18 next?  Tapping on their windows as the sun rises, with a huge smile saying: “Good morning!  You are now officially an adult so fill out this credit card application!”

My son starts high school in the fall.  I am beginning to worry that all my admonitions against getting into credit card debt may fall on deaf ears.  There is an unbelievable amount of “peer pressure” out there that says you are somehow magically an adult once you get a little piece of plastic with a magnetic strip … and the debt that comes with it.  Most of this pressure comes from the credit card companies’ marketing departments themselves.  I am glad we just don’t watch much television, with its brainwashing barrages in 30 or 60 second doses during every commercial break (which seem much closer together than when I was younger).

Hey, I’m a mom; I’m allowed to worry needlessly.  Blackneto is also a parent and is allowed to worry about this situation.  If you are a parent, YOU should be worried about credit card companies trying to snare our young people into serious debt!  The idea that college campuses are willing (and bought) accomplices should be a huge warning flag: WE as parents need to counter-brainwash our kids to “JUST SAY NO!” to credit cards.

Colleges across the nation don’t look out for our kids.  They have already sold out, and the credit card companies can easily afford the proverbial “thirty pieces of silver” in each and every college town.  Now it sounds like they are targetting our high schoolers.

Anyone else’s minor children receiving credit card offers in the mail?