Is my father responsible for money borrowed on his credit card?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 16, 2012
Red555 asked...

My brother borrowed a large sum of money on our father's credit card, and now he is late with payments. My question is: will our father be responsible for payments?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Unfortunately, without more facts, I have to give you the Typical Lawyer Answer which is: "yes, and no."

If your brother wasn't authorized either as a co-signer or authorized user of the credit card, your father wouldn't be held responsible for improper use of the card by someone who isn't permitted to use the credit card. If that is the situation, your father should report the improper use of the card as soon as possible to the credit card company and dispute the charges.

If, however, your brother was a co-signer or authorized user of the card, he would've been within his rights to use the card for any legitimate purpose -- and whomever is listed as a responsible party on the credit card would have the obligation to make payments. Even if your brother is permitted to use the card, he may be responsible to pay your father back for payments your father is required to make to the credit card company.

However, enforcing this obligation may be somewhat problematic for your father both in terms of family dynamics and your brother's ability to repay your father.