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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007

Clark's 8-year-old daughter applies for an AmEx card

Five years ago, Clark's daughter Stephanie was three years old and received a pre-approved offer for a Visa credit card -- what she then called a "Wisa" card. Stephanie loved the fake plastic card that came with the offer and often tried to scan it using her Barbie cash register. At that time she didn't really understand that you have to apply for credit and use it responsibly. Now that Stephanie is eight years old, she's received a solicitation from American Express. She wants to apply and so far Clark hasn't discouraged her. She's going to list her income as zero, her occupation as a student and disclose her true age. Then she'll wait to see if her application gets approved. Clark wonders what he's going to say to her when she's declined. Even worse, he's wondering what to say to her if she gets approved! The credit-card companies are so desperate for customers that there have even been documented cases where they've extended credit to people's dogs. Clark thinks his executive producer Christa should sign up her cat Willow for e-mail lists from merchants and assorted cat-alogs -- pun intended! The whole trend of young people having credit cards is very dangerous in Clark's eyes. One in 10 high-school students has one. But teens should be learning about saving, not spending. It's also important to look at the message about credit that we as parents are giving our children. If you run a balance every month, you need to get your own finances in shape before you try to teach your children by example.