UK child’s Farmville debt

By Anne Collier

A 12-year-old in the UK has put a new twist on farm debt. So caught up in playing Farmville this past spring, he ran through all his savings of 288 pounds (about $430), then used his mother’s credit card to buy 625 pounds ($936) worth of virtual farm objects, The Guardian reports. The mother asked Zynga, Farmville’s publisher, and Facebook, where her son played the game, to refund the money but was turned down, she said, because they held her responsible. Facebook disabled his account on the site, and Zynga, she said, suggested she use password protection on household computers. Her credit card company said that “had the credit card been used on a gambling site it would have started alarm bells ringing for ‘unusual usage.’ But because the card had been used to buy Facebook credits, HSBC did not consider the transactions to be suspicious, even though £625 was spent in just two weeks.” Clearly some protective measures need to be put in place but, until then, parents need to ask their kids what they’re playing online, knowing that Farmville and other games that sell virtual objects can get very expensive!

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