Can a Minor Be Liable as an Authorized User of a Credit Card?

Full Question:

My sons credit report states that he has an unpaid credit card balance of 4000.00. After research we discovered that when he was 16 his daddy requested an additional card on his credit card account with my sons name on it so he could purchase gas. His daddy had defaulted on this account. Since my son was underage and did not sign anything can the collection agency do this.
08/04/2009   |   Category: Debts and Cr... ยป Credit Cards   |   State: North Carolina   |   #17937

Answer:

Generally, a minor who is added to a credit card account as an authorized user isn't liable for the charges incurred unless the child is emancipated. The answer will depend on whether the son accepted the contract through making purchases, and whether any purchases were made after attaining the age of majority, which may be deemed as an affirmation of the debt.

Acceptance of an offer is the expression of assent to its terms. Acceptance must generally be made in the manner specified by the offer. If no manner of acceptance is specified by the offer, then acceptance may be made in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances. An acceptance is only valid, however, if the offeree knows of the offer, the offeree manifests an intention to accept, and the acceptance is expressed as an unequivocal and unconditional agreement to the terms of the offer.

Many offers specify the method of acceptance, whether it be oral or written, by phone or in person, by handshake or by ceremony. Other offers leave open the method of acceptance, allowing the offeree to accept in a reasonable manner. Most consumer transactions fall into this category, as when a shopper "accepts" a merchant's offer by taking possession of a particular good and paying for it at the cash register. But what constitutes a "reasonable" acceptance will vary according to the contract.

A contract, otherwise valid, entered into by a minor, cannot be disaffirmed because of the minor's minority if the contract is to pay the reasonable value of necessaries. The meaning of the term "necessaries" depends on the facts of the individual case. It depends on many things, including the particular circumstances of the minor, the actual need, and the use to which the purchased article is to be put. However, the common-law classification of necessaries as including food, lodging, clothing, medicine, medical attention, and education is generally recognized to the extent such items are suited to the minor's social position and situation in life, even though such items are not absolutely needed.