Credit Card Fraud Law
What is Credit Card Fraud Law?
Credit card fraud law establishes criminal penalties for the deceptive or unauthorized use of another person’s credit card account in an attempt to steal money, goods, or services. Statutes prohibiting these types of crimes have been enacted at all levels of government. They are enforced by a number of agencies, from local police departments to the U.S. Secret Service. While resources are available to help victims of credit card fraud, attorneys practicing in this area of the law mostly deal with the issue from a criminal defense perspective.
Types of Credit Card Fraud Crimes
Schemes to gain control of credit card accounts are constantly evolving in order to evade law enforcement, but the most common crimes can be characterized in one of two ways. “Card present” crimes are those in which the victim’s physical credit card has been stolen. This category also includes schemes to apply for new credit cards in the victim’s name, or to change the address on the victim’s account and then request replacement cards. However it is accomplished, the thief comes into possession of the card itself, which is then used for purchases or cash advances.
All other types of credit card fraud fall under the category of “card not present” crimes. As the name suggests, these schemes do not require the thief to gain access to the victim’s physical card, or if they do, the card is returned to the victim without raising suspicion. The fraud is accomplished by recording the credit card number and other identifying information so it can be used online, over the phone, or in some other way that does not require the card to be swiped at the point of sale.
Card not present schemes can be the most difficult to detect, as the thief and the victim may be thousands of miles apart at the time the credit card information is stolen. Skimming machines placed onto ATMs and gas pump terminals are one example. These devices go unnoticed by customers, and secretly capture card data when the customer slides the card through the machine. Phishing websites are another example. These are fake websites that are built to appear like legitimate sites of companies that people trust with their financial information. Victims are tricked into logging into the fake site and entering their credit card number.
Penalties for a Conviction
When legislatures draft criminal statutes dealing with credit card fraud, an attempt is not made to identify and specifically prohibit every potential scheme. Rather, these laws are usually written in general terms meant to encompass the various types of fraudulent behavior, and then penalties are assigned based on the total dollar value of the items or cash obtained in the scheme.
For example, a typical state statute might make credit card fraud a misdemeanor if no property is obtained with the stolen card, or if the property does not exceed a modest amount such as $500. Such a crime would carry a maximum fine of $1,000 or so, and a sentence of up to one year in the county jail. As the value of the property received increases, so does the penalty. Felony credit card fraud in which property of significant value was obtained might be punishable by a $25,000 fine and 15 years in prison. Of course, anyone charged under a particular statute should research the penalties in that jurisdiction, or consult with a lawyer for assistance.
Criminal Defense for the Accused
Facing prosecution for any kind of white collar crime is a terrifying experience, but charges of credit card fraud can take an even greater toll on the defendant. Unlike other lesser-known financial crimes, credit card fraud carries a certain stigma, likely a result of the abundance of media coverage and public outcry over the problem of identity theft in recent years. This means local prosecutors are inclined to “make an example” of the defendant, making sure the community has the opportunity to see that those who commit these frauds are not treated leniently.
For those who plan to plead guilty, the public’s hostility toward credit card fraud makes it especially important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. It will be the attorney’s job to reason with the judge, so that he or she will come to understand the defendant’s personal circumstances, sorrow for past conduct, and commitment to leading a better life. For defendants who plan on going to trial, the attorney must review all of the state’s evidence for discrepancies, conduct an independent investigation, develop a winning trial strategy, and then present the case to the jury in convincing fashion. These are not tasks accused individuals should attempt on their own.
Retaining a Credit Card Fraud Attorney
A skilled credit card fraud attorney can be a powerful ally in the battle to prove one’s innocence or ensure a fair sentence is handed down. If you have been arrested, you need to know exactly how bad of a situation you are in, and what can be done about it. Contact an attorney now to have your questions answered.
Know Your Rights!
Articles About Credit Card Fraud
- Virginia Credit Card Theft Forgery Fraud Penalties LawsThe following are the different laws regarding credit card crimes in Virginia.
- Combatting Credit Card FraudCredit card fraud is a form of identity theft that involves an unauthorized use of someone's credit card information for the purpose of charging purchases to the account or removing funds from it. State and federal laws both come into play with relation to credit card fraud, as may your agreements with your credit or debit card issuer.
- White Collar Crime FAQsThe majority of my practice focuses on the defense of federal white collar crimes, which can be a confusing area of law for people who are unfamiliar with the system. In that vein, I've compiled some basic questions and answers regarding white collar criminal defense to help shed some light on the process.
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- Carrying a Gun Illegally in a VehicleIf you have been caught with an illegally possessed gun in your car or truck, you haven’t really done much wrong and your legal problems aren’t too serious, right? Actually, the charge of criminal possession of a weapon in New York State is a serious charge. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, the charge may be a class C or D felony or a fourth degree misdemeanor, with legal penalties ranging from one to 15 years in jail.
- Florida Retains Title as Nation’s Mortgage Fraud CapitalFlorida is one of five states to rank in the top ten in Mortgage Fraud Index measures for incidents of fraud for both investigations in 2011 and loans originated in 2011. Michigan, California, Illinois and New York are the others. The dismal housing market in Florida is showing signs of new life, but the improvements have had little impact on the state’s mortgage fraud rates according to a recent report.
- Defining the Different Fraud CrimesFraud is one of the more serious criminal offenses that a person can be charged with. Though it is not serious due to a physical act of violence, in most cases, it is a serious offense in the sense that it can cause great financial turmoil for a victim of fraud and potentially put a victim or group of people in danger.
- Turn to a Kansas City Credit Card Fraud Lawyer When Arrested for this OffenseIf you have been accused of or arrested for credit card fraud, your future and reputation could be in serious danger. Kansas City credit card fraud attorneys know that without skilled legal representation, you may be facing monetary fines, jail/prison time, a permanent criminal record and community service, among other penalties.
- What You Should Know about Major TheftsAlthough statistics show that theft crimes are decreasing across the board, there is still a concern regarding major thefts. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is committed to stopping instances of art theft, gem theft, organized retail theft, and more. Accusations of major theft are sobering, not only because of the penalties, but because of the manpower and resources that the investigating agencies possess.
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Credit Card Fraud Law - US
- Credit Card Fraud - Overview
Credit card fraud involves an unauthorized taking of another’s credit card information for the purpose of either charging purchases to the victim’s account or removing funds from the account. It is regarded as one form of identity theft.
- Credit Card Fraud - Wikipedia
Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account.
- Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is a United States federal law enacted as an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
- FTC - Consumer Information
This section of the FTC website offers practical information on a variety of consumer topics. The information here can help you avoid rip-offs and exercise your consumer rights.
- FTC - Filing a Complaint
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, business practices, identity theft, and episodes of violence in the media.
- Online Credit Card Fraud - Spam Laws
Credit card fraud has become such an issue that no precise number can truly defined the global losses. And while most financial institutions are rather sensitive about the subject, a report from the FBI indicated that credit cards were largely responsible for the $315 billion loss the U.S. endured from financial fraud in 2005.
- United States Secret Service - Criminal Investigations - Fraud
The United States Secret Service is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems.
- USDOJ - Fraud Section
The Fraud Section plays a unique and essential role in the Department's fight against sophisticated economic crime.