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Online retailers aiding underage sales

15 October 2012

At a Conservative Conference fringe meeting 'Teenagers, Money and Safe Spending' (Birmingham, Monday 8th October) delegates backed the need for age verification checks to be carried out by online retailers and service providers to tackle the problem of underage sales online. 40 delegates and observers attended the meeting, hosted by CitizenCard and Pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group), which was chaired by Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew.

Tracey Bleakley, Pfeg Chief Executive, spoke about how a recent study carried out by Pfeg and the National Children's Bureau revealed that most children worry about money and 93% of parents want financial education in schools. Tracey discussed the fact that the spending habits of teenagers and young people have changed in recent years, with a focus on online trade. She believes that the financial education currently taught in some schools is no longer relevant and needs to reflect the current consumer world in which we live. The merits of a statutory debt management plan were discussed, and Pfeg's aim is to press for compulsory financial education in schools, a move supported by the 226 MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Personal Finance Education.

Jaine Chisholm Caunt, Secretary-General of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (and a Board member of CitizenCard) told the audience that the new Visa Prepaid CitizenCard is a vital step forward to tackle the problem of underage sales online. The Visa Prepaid CitizenCard will not only help protect consumers under the age of 18 but also protect online retailers and service providers because adult merchant codes had been barred from under-18 cards, and (uniquely amongst financial products in the UK) the 16-digit card number differentiated adults from children so that websites could determine if the cardholder was an adult from the card number alone. Jaine also said that it is very easy for young people to access age restricted services online as the user only needs to click a box that advises they are over 18 and that no age verification checks have been carried out.

CitizenCard's Chief Executive, Andrew Chevis reinforced the fact that most online retailers do not carry out online age verification checks. This lack of verification allowed children to buy age restricted products such as alcohol with the age check supposedly being carried out at the point of delivery. Andrew called for a strengthening of checks on websites selling age-restricted products.

Scottish National Party Conference:

'Say No To Underage Sales'

17:30-18:30 Friday 19th October, Murray Room, Salutation Hotel, Perth PH2 8PH. Chaired by Christine Grahame MSP, convenor of Scottish Parliament Justice Ctte. Fish supper and drinks.

Admission to the meeting is free and attendees can avail of a free Visa Prepaid CitizenCard. If you wish to attend please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.