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Liability of Authorized User of Credit Card

Question: I was added to a credit card account as an authorized user. Can the credit card issuer sue me?

Answer: An authorized user of a credit card is not liable.

Attempts to impose liability on authorized users may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Such attempts are common in several situations. (1) If the cardholder dies or files bankruptcy, we have seen credit card issuers try to hold the authorized user liable. (2) If the cardholder dies, we have seen credit card issuers call the survivor and try to get them to take over the account. (3) Business credit cards often provide in the “fine print” that the employee whose name appears on the card is liable. All of these attempts are illegal because under Illinois law a signed writing is necessary before one can be held liable for a promise to pay the debt of another. Although using a credit card issued to one person is sufficient agreement to make that person ( the cardholder) liable, it is not enough to hold an authorized user.

Our attorneys have a total of more than 100 years experience handling consumer lawsuits, including both lawsuits by consumers and lawsuits against consumers. One of them wrote the book on defending collection lawsuits. D. Edelman, Collection Litigation: Representing the Debtor (Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education 2008, 2011, 2014, 2019 editions), as well as the chapters in Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education publications on the Truth in Lending Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and mortgage-related claims.