My 10 yr old got a credit card offer in the mail. What the actual..?
September 28, 2021 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Why aren't our late-stage-capitalist overlords savvy enough to know she's 10? Also, how is she even in their database SHE IS TEN YEARS OLD? Is there some kind of illegal information leak I need to plug? Is this normal in America? Am I overreacting?
posted by MiraK to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Best answer: Scammers are known for stealing the SS numbers and identities of children, since no one thinks to check the credit reports of children, since they don’t have credit. There are stories of kids turning 18 and having difficulties going to college or getting a job, since their identities have been compromised.

Having said that, it’s more likely that late stage capitalism simply DNGAF. FB has been suggesting that I wish my dead friends a happy birthday for years. No one GAF about anything except making money.
posted by Melismata at 12:29 PM on September 28, 2021 [11 favorites]

I wouldn't worry. One day, somewhere, you submitted her name and address, or signed up for some kind of service under her name, and they sold her info to the credit card marketers. They don't know she's 10 and they don't care. They see Human @ address and decide to send a mailer. I used a fake name on a signup literally once, and 12 years later I got a random mailer with that name on it.
posted by greta simone at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

If there's no personal info or account info in the letter itself beyond name and address then it's just junk mailing list shenanigans, your daughter must have signed up for something which got her name on a list and there will probably be more junk mail on the way for her. I would not be concerned.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:31 PM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

She's in a marketing database, probably because of something like...she took a class at a pottery place and their owner somehow provided their list of clients (which was under her name for whatever reason) to a list broker, and then the bank's marketing department rented that list and she got an offer. It's very unlikely to be anything other than a mass mailing.

That said, it's worth checking her credit reports for any malfeasance.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:32 PM on September 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Marketing databases are not full of top notch data unless you are buying for “hard” credit offers. This was likely meant for you and database fields got messy somewhere along the line. They would not approve her for a credit card on her own, and it is highly unlikely they meant to send this to her at all. You can reach out to the financial institution and let them know that this letter went to a ten year old and they ought to remove the entry from their database for future mailings (that haven’t already been pulled and sent).
posted by Bottlecap at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

This has been happening for decades. In the mid-80s, my younger sibling received a valid credit card offer in the mail when he was 12 (give or take a couple of years). This was from a major bank. My mom let him send it back in as a joke. Which led to him being issued a credit card (which my mom promptly put away for sake keeping. I think she let him use it once or twice,but it's been so long ago, that the details are fuzzy).
posted by sardonyx at 12:42 PM on September 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Put a credit freeze in on your kid's data in the 3 big credit agencies. They can unfreeze whenever they need to, and until then there's no reason not to.

Like other people said this is just capitalism and probably no one is doing anything shady, but it's so easy to do shady things these days that why NOT freeze the kid's credit.
posted by phunniemee at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2021 [21 favorites]

I'd check the credit bureaus ASAP, "just in case" someone stole her identity, or got her mixed up with someone else with very similar or same name.
posted by kschang at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

One reason not to preemptively freeze your kid's credit is that when you freeze your credit, each credit agency gives you an obscure set of codes and confirmation numbers you'll need if you ever want to unfreeze it, and you're responsible for keeping track of that somewhere safe. No doubt there's probably a way around it if you lose that information, but I wouldn't want to have to deal with that down the line.

Also, given how important credit can be, you might want to start building your kid's credit early by adding them as an authorized user but never giving them the card. So I wouldn't assume you won't want to make use of your kid's ability to have a line of credit in the next few years.
posted by limeonaire at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I created an American Airlines frequent flyer number for my son and he started getting credit card offers the next month. Everyone is selling your name and address these days.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:29 PM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you have a password manager, it should be a safe place to enter any codes needed to unfreeze the child's credit.

I can imagine this is unsettling, MiraK; I sure do hope you pull your child's report and it's still clean.
posted by humbug at 3:24 PM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Check their credit, but these things happen. We were talking to a gym a few years ago, my wife mentioned our newborn, the manager (!) said "Oh, I have a newborn. What's his name?" and then a month later we started getting market materials from that gym with our son's name. Wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the gym then selling their marketing list to other organizations. Referral promos mean no one cares what's on a list, they just want to get paid.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have a password manager, it should be a safe place to enter any codes needed to unfreeze the child's credit

and if you don't, you should start using one.

I like KeePassXC because
  • it's free software, both as in speech and as in beer
  • it uses the same widely supported password file format as KeePass
  • it works the same way on every desktop platform without requiring a heavyweight runtime like .Net or Mono
  • it isn't locked in to any particular cloud provider's offering for cross-device sync (I'm currently using a freebie Dropbox account for that, but anthing will work)
  • it works off a local password database file, so it doesn't actually need network access to do stuff like being used as safe storage for credit card unfreeze details
  • database entries can have arbitrary files attached to them - good for signing up with stuff that insists on photo ID
  • it has a TOTP feature for use with services that absolutely insist that my master password couldn't possibly be strong enough and force me to jump through 2FA hoops as well; I'm currently using that instead of both Google Authenticator and Symantec VIP
KeePass, and of late KeePassXC, have been at the centre of my online security life for some years now and I cannot express just how much peace of mind that's given me. Never needing to exercise a forgot-password process has been just wonderful.
posted by flabdablet at 4:05 AM on September 29, 2021 [10 favorites]

My brother (who is now 33) infamously got a credit card offer as an infant, for a higher credit limit than either of my parents had at the time.
posted by hoyland at 7:22 AM on September 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I pulled a credit report, it was clean, and today I have "freeze kids' credit" on my to-do list. Thanks for the info on the password manager as well.
posted by MiraK at 8:33 AM on September 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

« Older I switched to the wrong PhD program. What do I do...   |   iPhone mysterious checkmark? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments