Burning legal question: When does unauthorized spending turn into a lawsuit?

Burning legal question: When does unauthorized spending turn into a lawsuit?

Most people won’t mind spending for their loved ones, but what about loved ones who spend your money without your permission? Is the love enough to forgive them their trespasses? Or does love turn you into a fool who spends money without hesitation? In today’s blog, we dive into these burning questions.

The entitled girlfriend and the parents’ credit card

Reddit user ImaginaryNet2379 (we’ll call her Ima2) posted the following story online:

Ima2’s son is a young hotshot lawyer who runs a law firm funded by the start-up loan given by his parents. He lives with his girlfriend who works in retail.

One day, Ima2 and her husband were visiting their son when they decided to order food. Feeling generous, Mr. and Mrs. Ima2 offered to pay for the meal. So they handed their credit card to the girlfriend, who used her phone to order food. They (rightfully) assumed they were just paying for that one meal.

Fast-forward to several months later. Ima2 and her husband noticed some significant charges to their card, so they had their accountant look into it. Lo and behold, they discovered that their son’s girlfriend had been living the high life on their dime. She had put their card into her Apple Pay account and racked up a whopping 17K in four months.

When they confronted her about it, the girlfriend was defensive and denied the accusation. Then, she claimed entitlement — like it was her divine right to siphon funds from her boyfriend’s parents. She said they didn’t notice the withdrawals for four months, so why should they care?

The parents dropped an ultimatum: pay up or face the consequences. She said she didn’t have enough dough.

Their son seemed genuinely shocked when they told him about it. He has offered to bail her out, even though he’s cash-strapped himself. But they don’t want to take his money. They are, however, considering reporting her to the police. To their dismay, their son has taken her side and played the sympathy card on her behalf.

For Ima2 and her husband, it’s not the money but the principle: theft is theft. The girlfriend has shown no remorse and taken no responsibility, and they want to teach her a lesson. But they fear that if they sue her, it’ll drive a wedge between them and their son. Already, he hasn’t been communicative whenever they reach out.

Many Redditors commented that the son doesn’t deserve his parents’ extremely generous act of funding his law firm, while some said he had no business being a lawyer.

To no one’s surprise, Ima2 and her husband probably won't be getting their son as their lawyer if they ever need one.

Children, behave! Kids’ unauthorized in-game purchases

Picture this: you open your mailbox and there’s a surprise bill for your kid’s unauthorized shopping spree. If you’re a parent, you may or may not know that kids nowadays can be like financial ninjas who make purchases behind their parents’ backs.

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had a field day with tech giants Apple, Amazon, and Google. These companies had allowed kids to run wild with in-app purchases, leaving parents to foot the bill. But who’s to blame?

If the tech companies are to be believed, parents are solely responsible for their children’s purchases. The parents, on the other hand, said their children didn’t know any better; what’s more, the parents received purchase notifications after the fact. Long story short, complaints and lawsuits flew, and the FTC ended up siding with the parents.

To illustrate, take the case against Apple. Parents flooded the company with thousands of complaints due to their children’s unauthorized in-app purchases. One parent reported that her daughter dropped a jaw-dropping $2,600 on in-app purchases for “Tap Pet Hotel.” Apple had to revamp its billing game, ensuring explicit consent for in-app charges with an easy opt-out option.

Amazon got in on the action too, with parents griping about unclear in-app charges and zero password protection. The FTC called them out for blurring the lines between virtual currency and real money, turning kid-friendly games into financial danger zones.

And let’s not forget the complaint against Google. In this case, parents were clueless about their offspring’s Google Play shopping sprees ranging from pocket change to $200. The FTC wasn’t amused, compelling Google to tighten the ship.

The three tech giants had to cough up $121.5 million in total settlements.

The lesson here? Best keep an eye on your tech-savvy munchkins, or the tech giants will let them drain your bank account.

Related reading: Burning legal question: Is it a red flag when your spouse forces you to pool all earnings into one shared account?

Money or love?

Unauthorized payments may hurt your wallet, but unauthorized payments by loved ones — especially if they’re family — may hurt more than your wallet. Do you go after them or let them off the hook? For thorny legal issues in Washington State, seek advice for your family law or personal injury case from LaGrandeur & Williams. Contact us, or visit our office in Renton.