Lloyds TSB criticised for giving children debit cards
Lloyds TSB is giving children, as young as 11, debit cards without their parents consent.
The news raises fears that the cards could being used to buy cigarettes, alcohol and pornography over the internet.
In the past, children aged 11 to 15 who hold current accounts were limited to debit cards that could only be used in bank branches or at cash machines.
However, the new cards allow children to spend a large amount of cash on the internet, potentially spending all the money in their account, without their parents knowing. The cards are Visa-enabled and can be used any time a Visa sign is displayed.
It is believed that one 15-year-old boy from South Wales used the card to purchase cheap cigarettes and Viagra from an overseas website.
His parents only found out after a Customs demand for duty on the cigarettes was received.
The father of the 15-year-old believes that Lloyds-TSB is promoting illegal activity and said they were aiding and abetting a crime by allowing children to purchase goods illegally over the internet.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman described it as deeply dispiriting and said Lloyds are motivated by short-term greed.
However, the major High Street bank insists it is up to parents to monitor their child’s use of the cards on the internet and says there are safeguards to ensure they cannot be used on adult websites. Lloyds-TSB claimed it was simply falling into line with its competitors.
Chris Tapp, director of the money education charity Credit Action, said to cut parents out of the loop goes against common sense.
Other banks only offer cards to under-16s that allow limited withdrawals from cash machines and rather being sent direct to children, they are also sent to parents.
For example, a Visa enabled card from Barclays is available to children of 11 and above, however, written permission from their parent or guardian is required.
Lloyds-TSB said it wrote to customers under the age of 16, who previously had a cash machine card, to let them know they could have a debit card but said they should inform their parents.
A spokesperson for the bank did say it was willing to investigate how the 15-year-old boy could buy the adult goods over the internet.