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My daughter took out a phone contract at 16

2 months ago - Posted by

It was online, she lied about her age and said she was 18 and I can’t see how a credit check could have been done. She must have been paying for it with her pocket money but can’t anymore and I have only just found out. I phoned 02 and explained this to them and they said they would have to start a fraud investigation. I told them to go ahead and while they were at it to also find out who sold her this contract and perhaps investigate this person and what kind of credit check could have with been carried out.
Then she received two very threatening letters from 02, threatening her with debt collection agencies and the courts. We went to her bank and cancelled the direct debits with 02 as they kept bouncing anyway and the bank assistant said I should take this further as it did not sound right at all.
Can 02 pursue this?

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1 Answer

TAD Member

2 months ago

Hi

First, how this is dealt with is partly dependant on where you live.

In Scotland you can have full contractual capacity to enter a contract at 16, although in the rest of the UK you have to be 18.

Nothing in the Consumer Credir Act says you need to be 18 to enter a contract, though almost all firms say you need to be 18 to enter a contract with them.

So the first thing is your daughter lied about being 18. This means she was wrong as by saying that, when she was 16, she induced them into entering a contract that they will say they would not have entered if she had been honest about her age. It’s worth remembering the age for crinimal liability is lower than contractual liability.

However, they should have done affordability checks (this is more important than credit checks), they should also have tried to verify her identity and age, against the electoral roll at the very least.

They appear clearly to be in the wrong too.

I would argue the contract is void, as a) your daughter was not the correct age to enter the contract and, b) if they had done the contract checks, carried out proper due dilgience, they would have realised this and not entered into a contract with her.

If necessary make a complaint to the firm and request the contract be voided. This may not mean they will not seek to recover money, as they may say your daughter was wrong to have lied to them, but hopefully with a bit of negotiation, they will agree to write off the remaining debt.

They will most likely want the phone returned, which they are entitled to. I would agree to this.

I think legally they have a case for recovering some of the money in the form of damages, but think if you point out they also made mistakes and you will return the phone, a commonsense resolution can be found.

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