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United Kingdom-based bank Lloyds TSB Group PLC is accused of sending Visa-branded debit cards to minors as young as 11 years old without parental consent, according to several published reports. In the past, children ages 11 to 15 who held Lloyds TSB accounts were restricted to debit cards they could use only at cash machines and bank branches. A 15-year-old boy reportedly used his debit card to purchase cigarettes and a fake adult ID online. The bank says it will investigate why safeguards failed to prevent the minor from purchasing merchandise from adult-oriented Web sites. A Lloyds spokesperson says customers under the age of 16 who had a cash card could receive a debit card. "We made it clear that they should let their parents know," the spokesperson says in one report. "Parents or guardians can ask for the cards to be blocked." Government officials and consumer groups are questioning the bank's practices. "It goes against common sense for banks to cut the parents out of the loop," Chris Tapp, director of UK-based money-education charity Credit Action, says in a report. The spokesperson defended the bank's actions. "We don't always have the parents' contact details or know the family's circumstances," the spokesperson says in a report. "There are cases where the child might bank with us, but the parent might not."

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