Ask Parry - Are My Teen's Online Gambling Debts Enforceable?
My 15 year old son used my credit card to access gambling sites online - to the tune of approximately $500. He of course did not have permission to do this and is under 18. Are my husband and I responsible for this bill or should the credit card company treat it like fraud and cover the cost?
Riverboat Gambler's Mom
Dear Riverboat Gambler's mom:
I will respond assuming you are a resident of the US and your son used a regular credit card.
First, you need to know that online gambling is not legal in the US. (There are some fine points not applicable here.) A law exists nationally to restrict the use of financial instruments or credit cards for online gambling purposes. Because of this, you should be able to dispute this charge and have the gambling charges credited to your account.
In all likelihood, they will immediately credit your account. If they don't, you will have to prove that you notified them in the proper way, not online or over the phone, but to the right address and via certified mail, in order to have access to your full rights under the law.
Now, the legal issues may be covered, but someone needs to sit down and teach your son what he should and shouldn't do with your credit cards and about how online gambling is a no-win activity for teens.
Good luck (no pun intended :))
p.s. you may want to read the study we commissioned to advise Congress on the issues consumers face with illegal online gambling and how regulating the industry is crucial.