What should you do if your kid uses your credit card without permission to buy things online? What sort of actions would be appropriate to teach the kid or would you even punish your kid at all?

  • 12
    How old is your kid? Also, how was the credit card (or since with was online, the credit card number) obtained? – sharur Feb 19 '18 at 0:29
  • 3
    And what do you want them to take away from this experience? – Erik Feb 19 '18 at 10:52
  • 8
    We need a lot more information. Age, were there ever any rules in place about it, what did he buy, and was it something you forbade, etc. etc. There are many possible answers to all the different possible scenarios. It would be very helpful f you gave more information (you know it, but we do not,) :) – anongoodnurse Feb 19 '18 at 11:17

We had that happen twice. Once by my daughter, who is not computer savvy at all and didn't realize that clicking the button would cost me money. I enabled parential controls on the game she was playing and gave her the option of either paying for the in-game item she had bought with real money earned from her allowance, or giving it up. She chose to earn it.

My son, who is a lot more click savvy bought in-game "money" several times before we noticed and we were pretty sure he knew what he was doing and tried to hide it. We deleted the game software off the computer and disabled his whole account for that game. You abuse it, you lose it. And told him that in the future we would not be trusting him with our credit card info on any of his games, or any software he had access to. At least for a couple of years.

If your child is young enough to not have understood the consequences, education and possibly repayment would be the way to go. Intent is the most important thing to determine when deciding punishment; it's easy to click a button and accidentally cause real world financial consequences, but a child who takes an actual credit card and uses it without your knowledge is a whole different situation. The former is something that is easy to do unless you are very careful. The latter is essentially no different than if you caught them stealing money out of their mom's purse.

  • My son is fourteen. My daughter is sixteen, but she is developmentally disabled so her age isn't as relevant as it might otherwise be. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Feb 22 '18 at 20:46
  • Since these incidents happened about a year ago, it's hard to say what long term consequences might be. My daughter has always been very respectful of rules, so we knew she didn't do it on purpose. My son hasn't even brought up the subject of restoring the game is question, and he didn't fuss when he asked if he could buy something for another on-line game and we told him no. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Feb 22 '18 at 20:49

You do not want to punish the kid for doing wrong. You want to teach the kid that what they did was wrong, and have some confidence that they won't do it again. Punishment may be a means to get there.

If you want to prevent the "bad" way of doing something, you first have to ensure there's a good way. Unfortunately you may also have to make the bad way harder to do.

There's not a lot of detail in your answer, but you should consider:

  • Possibly getting them a prepaid credit card.
  • Establish rules about how and when they may use your card, possibly written down, possibly tied to a specific age range if they have siblings.
  • Giving them the impression that you can find out if they use your money outside of established rules.
  • Telling them that you are disappointed, and why.
  • Reclaim the expenses, if it doesn't exceed their means.

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