Advice Needed for Unauthorized Credit Card charges by difficult child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Castle Queen, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    My heart is breaking today. I found out that difficult child has been racking up charges on my credit card to Itunes and Amazon (downloading books and movies onto his Kindle Fire). I had put my credit card on his Kindle Fire account to download a book difficult child really wanted and forgot to remove it when he was done downloading. I was so proud of him because he earned the Kindle himself at the school through books he had read during the year, accumulating a vast amount of points for taking tests on said books.

    I noticed yesterday he was reading a new release on the Kindle. I asked him how he had come to get it and he replied that the book was free to the first 500 users to sign up. I smelled a rat. Also he was watching a movie last night, I asked how he had gotten it and he said free through his Prime account. He only had one month of free Prime when he first got the Kindle in May, and as far as I know new releases would never be free anyway.

    So, I checked my credit card account online. Almost $1000 of charges. I immediately took his devices away, including access to our easy child (he is addicted to Minecraft) and told him he'd be making restitution but I have no idea how to get that much $ out of a 12 year old. He'll be doing hard labor for at least a year to pay it all off! Also, I just know he's going to refuse to do any of the chores with no end in sight. We had just started an allowance program this summer that allowed him to make up to $12 a week, so he could have a little personal money for things like ice cream, legos, etc. He wasn't even doing all that well on it after the first couple weeks.

    I have no idea how to deal with this to teach difficult child his lesson. I don't even want to talk to him right now. As challenging as he's always been, I thought we had a good relationship built on trust. He knew what he was doing. My fiance has been out of work since Feb and I have been unable to sell my house, so money is tight. Does anyone have any advice for me, on how to deal with difficult child or even if there is a way I can dispute the charges without him getting into legal trouble?
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sending understanding hugs your way. I had that problem at around that age but thankfully not that much money. I chose to only hammer down at home due to his age and my fear of the legal system. Other members of the CD family have reported similar problems with-o hesitancy. I'm sorry that you have to face this. It gets complicated particularly when it is a younger child. You don't want to break the bond so you, in my humble opinion, have to find a reasonable position and make sure he truly understands the importance of what he did. I've raised eight and very few of them "really" understood that credit cards are the same as salary money on the kitchen table that they would never ever think of touching. Good luck. DDD
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    you can contact the credit card company and explain the situation and you can contact the customer service dept of the companies that he has charged at and explain the situation to them. They might take some of the charges off maybe. Good Luck
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh this is so familiar to me. At 12 my difficult child did the same thing only it was wracking up charges on my phone. He became almost addicted to calling people and they were all long distance numbers! Back then we couldnt have unlimited long distance. I had 3 months of very high bills...almost 2 grand in total. The people at the phone company were trying to help me stop him too. When the first bill came in I always took the physical phone with me when I wasnt near it. He went to a friend and asked them if they had an old one we could use because ours was broken. They gave him one. I never saw it so I was astounded when there were more charges the next month. So the phone company and I blocked my phone from dialing any long distance calls or 900 numbers. We didnt think about the 800 number that allowed a person to call through that and bill it to the phone. month we blocked all 800 numbers. Then he figured out he could call 0 and the operator would make the call for him. At that point the phone company locked down my phone so hard that the only numbers that could be called were local and 911. It stayed that way until I cut my home phone off. I was forced to pay the bill because I had to have a phone due to my job. I just would have let it go to collections and ignored it if I hadnt been forced to have a home phone.

    In your situation because it is a credit card and that really is considered fraud, do you think a bit of a scared straight approach might reach him? I would consider having a cop talk to him about exactly what charges he could be arrested for. Might work.
  5. compassion

    compassion Member

    I have been through this a lot with my daughter. I would call and say it was unautorized charges (true). THen, canel that credit card get another credit card. Can't reason with her. We have to lock stuff up/protect ourselves. Like DDD, chose to not go the legal route, rather treatment. These spending sprees are part of her manic cycle.
  6. Confused

    Confused Guest

    Hi Castle Queen,

    Although I havent been through what you all have been through.. hopefully I wont- all I can say is I would have also taken the Kindle away. Explain why it was wrong and definitely have him do a few extra chores. Ask him how he would feel if you used his money without his permission or similar. Hopefully he wont do it again. Good luck and sorry for your bill
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wonder if I can contact the Home Shopping networks and tell them all the things I bought were part of a manic cycle and get them to forgive me? Somehow I doubt it.

    The one major issue I have with my bipolar is that I will spend money if I have it. I dont go opening credit cards or anything like that but if I have some money I will spend it. I have sworn off the shopping channels because they are just too much temptation for me. I do like Ebay though because I can usually get something pretty cheap and it satisfies me.
  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Janet, :rofl:, I love QVC -- could I borrow your diagnosis?

    Queen, not sure the manic issue is a reasoning behind your difficult child's spending spree. Have you sat him down and asked him why he though it was ok to charge all these things to you? Did he truly realize that clicking the button equaled money to you? I certainly would take the Kindle away and use the good old fashioned library for reading (since he seems to love that) and disallow games that require money to play.

    Other than that, no more allowance but set chores and tasks are going to be the way to go.

    I also agree that perhaps calling the credit card company might help but, not sure they will agree it was fraud since you linked the card to the account.

    Sorry this has added to your financial burden.

  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

    I think there are multiple problems here...

    First, sites like Amazon (and their related apps) make "one-click buying" really easy. There is no "Are you sure you want to pay $$$$ for this purchase?" and there usually is no confirmation receipt displayed either. So the act of browsing and buying is really fast. (Sometimes, I think the sites don't even use the term "Buy" - instead saying "Get it Now") So in this respect, I think it is less about "stealing" and more about "impulse control"...

    on the other hand - though, the fact that your difficult child had a ready story about getting things for free points to the fact that he was aware he was making unauthorized charges.

    And on yet another hand - things like Amazon Prime will continue to be automatically billed if credit card information is on it is entirely possible that he did make some purchases, and other purchases really were "free" through Amazon Prime if that account has been automatically renewed and billed to the credit card.

    So, I think the first thing to do is cancel all renewing memberships. Turn OFF the "one-click-buy" features. Remove stored credit card information. and, if possible, change your account settings to require passwords to any accounts where purchases will be made in the future.

    As far as discipline goes - I think at this age, it is unreasonable to expect a 12 year old to be able to re-pay $1000 cc bill.

    It IS, however, reasonable for a 12 year old to "owe" you 1000 hours of yard work or household chores or some other such things. (or perhaps you'd like to assign a dollar value to chores - as in chores are paid $5 an hour - he owes you 200 hours...)
  10. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    Thanks so much for all your responses. I haven't looked on his device yet to see all he bought...just can't bring myself to do it. Feeling so betrayed. He doesn't have a manic cycle so it must be just impulsiveness. neuropsychologist didn't uncover anything except severe ADHD and some co-morbid anxiety.
    He said he was sorry....sorry he did it or sorry he got caught I can't say. Hard to look at with objectivity anymore. It's so funny; since he was pre-K he has had therapy..medication...all I could give him as far as early intervention and still it has come to this. :crying:I feel we are on a fast moving train to CD.

    I think I am going to go the 200 hours of chores route. He won't be getting any screen privileges until they are completed. I am hesitant to involve the policy as we live in such a small town, there are only 2 cops and I don't want him to be part of the town gossip. His dad (my ex) died this spring and I think we are in for an even tougher haul than we thought. My DF doesn't really get it, or him.
  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This issue could very well be compounded by the death of his father. Was he close to his dad or spend regular time with his dad? Don't you get anxious about CD -- this situation is not an automatic sign of some deeper issue. Take it one day and one issue at a time. Does he have a therapist? If so, I think this would be a great thing for them to cover.

    I'm still finding it hard to imagine him racking up almost 1K in charges in one month for books and movies - are you sure hasn't ordered some stuff that has yet to arrive? I would be checking that bill today!

  12. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    I will check but I believe everything was downloads: movies, books & games. I started writing everything down, 2 full notebook pages, but my ccd bill was only specific as to merchant.
    He was close to his dad, his dad had every other weekend visitation with him and Sprite. He just had a therapist appointment last week so will be a few weeks until he has another. His therapist says he hasn't wanted to talk about his dad other than to say he doesn't believe in God anymore. His dad was taken from us rather suddenly and without warning, found dead of heart failure in his recliner.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Totally a side-note, for "next time". I ordered a separate credit card that isn't a "credit" card at all... It's a "prepaid" card - here they call it a "travel" card. I use it for on-line purchases. I move the $$$ to that credit card via phone banking, then use the card for the purchase. The company can't bill me twice, because there isn't that much $$ on the card. It's just a better way to go with on-line buying... not just because of difficult child kids, but it helps with those too.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have two things to say about the Kindle. This type of thing makes me mad because it sorta wants you to stay connected to Amazon and that can be a problem. Monkey was playing with my oldests kindle and she accidentally hit the buy button during a game when it asked if she wanted more tokens. She had no idea she was buying them. She has the same game on my phone and on her tablet and it wont allow that feature through. Oldest was so mad at her that she spent $20 that he had her in tears because she did something wrong. She was looking all over the house for pennies to give him. He explained to her that she should never hit anything on that little box that will pop up in the middle of the screen. She has learned because she has come to me when some ad shows up.

    Now this also makes me extremely thankful to my bank. Actually I belong to a credit union. I was downloading some songs off of one of the online sites and they called me within minutes of me hitting the buy button. If that hadnt been me they wouldnt have let the charges go through.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he has never done it before, perhaps he was making himself feel better about his father's death. I would have trouble going too hard on him right now. If he has done it before...that is different.

    If he does it again, then again it would be different. Even though he suffered a tremendous loss, he still can't steal from you. I think the chores is a good idea. Did he ever act out his grief? Get any grief counseling?
  16. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    MWM, outside of a few crying jags, he hasn't acted out his grief. He does see a therapist and has for years, but hasn't seen anyone else specifically defined as a grief counselor. therapist says difficult child will not talk about it. He's tried recommending a few books. So far, difficult child is eagerly completing chores assigned. Not sure if it's because he sees re-attaining his devices as the goal or because it's helping him work away some of the guilt he might feel for what he did.

    I just hope when I log in to see what's all there I don't see porn. :sigh:
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You may want to consider pawning some of his games, video game systems/equipment, etc... to help him learn that what he did has a real cost and if he does it he has to pay even if it is a mistake. If he wants his games back from the pawn shop, he can do chores to earn the $$ in the time frame that is allowed by the pawn shop. Let HIM take the initiative to ask for chores to earn $$ or to do without the game systems, etc... You might even consider pawning his kindle if you really want to be SURE the lesson sinks in.

    this is a technique out of parenting your teen with love and logic and in my opinion is VERY appropriate for this type of thing. His lies about the prime account and the free book are pretty clear evidence that he knew it was wrong, and that means he MUST make some type of restitution.