How-To

Microsoft Account: How to Verify You’re an Adult without a U.S.-based Credit Card

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Trying to set up a child’s account but don’t live in the U.S.? Good luck verifying that you’re an adult.

As I was configuring family member access in Windows 10, I noticed something I thought was strange. At one point, Microsoft asked for a credit card number so they could charge me $0.50 in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Here’s the message I saw:

microsoft account age verification COPPA

Let your child use their Microsoft account online?

To comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Microsoft collects parental consent and verifies it by charging a one-time fee of $0.50 (50 cents) to the parent’s US-based credit card. The fee is donated to charity—it doesn’t let your child make purchases on that card.

[…]

I went ahead and did that and, just like they said they would, they charged my credit card for $0.50. It showed up on my credit card statement as MICROSOFT*ACCOUNT for $0.50.

microsoft account age verification COPPA

This seems legit, I suppose. This measure makes sure that a kid can’t accept the Microsoft user agreement on your behalf. It’s a good bet that kids under the age of 13 don’t have credit cards. The practice seems a little old-fashioned, though. At the very least, Microsoft claims that they donate everyone’s 50 cents to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

What about non-U.S. Microsoft Users?

The problem I see with this age verification method is the “U.S.-based credit card” requirement. COPPA is an American law created by the FTC in the U.S. So, what about our good friends in non-U.S. countries?

So far, I haven’t found a good solution for complying with COPPA and verifying your age from a different country. In cases where users got this resolved, they simply contacted Microsoft support. Microsoft may ask for age verification via fax or some other means, which seems equally as ridiculous (I think an international fax might cost even more than 50 cents). If you tell them you can’t swing that either, they may just wave a magic wand and activate your account anyway.

What a pain.

This credit card verification only occurs when you try to create an account for someone who is under 13 years old. They calculate this based on the birthdate you enter during the Microsoft account setup process.

I have to say, overall, I’m pretty unimpressed with Windows 10 family safety features. They seem cumbersome and sort of half-baked. This Americentric age verification inconvenience is just one example.

Have you had other issues with Windows 10 family member or family safety features? Leave me your gripes in the comments.


4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Mark  

    I agree with you on the article content. however the title “Microsoft Account: How to Verify You’re an Adult without a U.S.-based Credit Card” is totally misleading. There is nothing in there about what the title says! It should say “with” instead of “without”

  2. Philip  

    This is an excellent article if you know how to read between the lines I suppose.

  3. Gokcen Guner  

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen from a company of that size. I don’t want to send a postal mail, I don’t want to send a fax either, this is not 1980s. It shouldn’t be that hard to provide an e-mail address for verification. Skype has been always useless, but I don’t remember getting frustrated by that so much.
    Thank you for the post.

  4. Martin Millican  

    You take the time to write an article titled, “How to Verify You’re an Adult without a U.S.-based Credit Card” and then don’t answer the question. As a Canadian it’s already frustrating enough to deal with Microsoft without reading useless articles like this.

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