July 23, 2013 -- intro: Most people start to receive their first credit card mailings when they turn 18. But sometimes these offers are a little out of the ordinary, arriving for people who are far too young, or family members that aren't even human.
Here are a few stories of people who have received some pretty strange credit card mailings.
quicklist: title: When the Owner's Away... text: When Mike and Debbie Gavaghan bought their first home in Texas in 1996, they furnished it with a brand new entertainment center. But they "decided to have a little fun" with the warranty card, and put their cat Max's name and information down instead of their own.
They made Max a self-employed father of five, who owned a boat and made half a million dollars a year. Soon, Max W. Gavaghan began to receive offers from all sorts of companies: magazines, sweepstakes, country club memberships and grocery delivery companies, all wanting to reel Max in. But perhaps the most enticing offer was a pre-approved credit card from MBNA (acquired by Bank of America in 2006) with a $100,000 limit. On the same day, Max's owner also received a card offer from MBNA — but with a limit of only $50,000. Their cat was more credit-worthy than Mike and Debbie!
quicklist: title:Dog Day Afternoon text:
Kelly Sloan has had quite a tough time with getting her point across to Capital One. In 1999, after her father's death, she contacted the credit card company to cancel his account. But she kept getting notices and requests for her deceased father, at which point she took out her frustrations in a creative way. She filled out paperwork in her dog Spark's name, but has now been getting offers for Spark ever since.
Despite the sheltie-spaniel mix's death in 2002 at age 13, he's apparently eligible for up to $30,000 in credit, at 5.99% for 3 years guaranteed. Not bad for a house pet who's already passed away.
quicklist: title: Underage and Over the Limit text:
CNNMoney writer Jessica Dickler's daughter couldn't even differentiate between a penny and a quarter when she received her first credit card application. At just 3 years old, she'd hardly learned the value of a dollar when American Express wanted to offer her a credit line.
Confused, Dickler contacted the credit card company wondering why her toddler received a mailing. She found that clothing or furniture sent directly to her daughter in the past was the culprit. Those retailers, as many often do, sold their list of customers to American Express, which is why Dickler's daughter was now raking in the offers.
quicklist: title: A Gag Gone Awry text:
While Dickler may have thrown her daughter's offer away, a woman in Aurora, Ill., had a different idea. When her then 5-year-old son Bennett received a credit card application in 2007, she had him fill it out. He wrote in his real income ($200) and birthday (2002) and sent the forms back to Bank of America. The family thought little of their silly joke until shortly after when Bennett received a brand new credit card in his name with a $600 limit.
If you've ever received a crazy credit card offer for a child or pet, think twice before you just throw it away. It's a good idea to call the credit card company to ask where they received their information, and inform them that there's been a mistake. Children must be 13 before they can legally be added onto your credit account (and 18 to acquire a card of their own) and as much as you wish your pets could buy their own kibble, they can't be cardholders either.
Once you clear it up with the credit card company, don't forget to dispose of the offers or cards in a way that protects your identity and valuable personal information. If your child mistakenly receives a card offer, it's a good idea to check their credit report as well, in order to protect against fraud and identity theft.
Lastly, remember that companies often sell their lists of customers, so if you don't act to rectify the situation, it will probably self-perpetuate, leaving your pet or toddler with even more offers they don't need.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.