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What Is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud is considered a financial crime involving the unauthorized use of a credit card to purchase goods or services or to access a cash advance.
Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that can warrant serious legal repercussions if you don’t seek proper legal counsel. Credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of identity theft in the United States and is not taken lightly in the eyes of the court. You can be convicted of credit card fraud simply for using another person’s credit card even if you do not claim to be the individual who is named on the card.
Examples of Credit Card Fraud
There are several ways you might be convicted of credit card fraud. Simple theft of the physical credit card itself is one example of credit card fraud but there are many others.
Application fraud is another variant of credit card fraud in which offenders open up a credit card (or similar, such as a line of credit) account under a different person’s name. Given that personal details gathered by a data leak, phishing scheme or purchase of identity markers via the dark web are becoming easier to access, this type of credit card fraud is increasing in prevalence year-over-year.
An account takeover can be the result of leaked information as well. In these cases, the fraudsters assume the identity of the victim, providing details which they have gained via illegal means such as skimming or phishing. After the legitimate cardholder cancels the card and is issued a new card, the thieves have gained access to what remains of the credit balance on the card.
Credit Card Fraud Punishment
While credit card fraud charges are levied at the state level more often than not, you could face federal charges if the offense is $1,000 or more in damages and involves interstate or foreign commerce.
If you are found guilty of credit card fraud or debit card fraud in federal court, you could face up to 10 years in prison in addition to a fine of up to $10,000.
States treat credit card fraud differently, and jurisdictional penalties may vary. In some states, credit card fraud can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the context. If you used a stolen credit card less than twice, and for less than $100, first degree misdemeanor charges typically apply.
If, however, you used a stolen credit card twice or more, or if the total value charged was over $100, you could face third degree felony charges. Those found guilty of a misdemeanor may face up to one year in jail, probation and a $1,000 fine. Those found guilty of the felony could face up to five years in prison, probation and a $5,000 fine.
Is Credit Card Fraud a Felony?
Whether credit card fraud is considered a felony or misdemeanor varies according to the circumstances of the crime such as how malicious the offenders were, how much was stolen, how many times the fraudulent card was used and other aggravating factors.
What Do Credit Card Fraud Attorneys Do?
An experienced credit card fraud attorney will be able to help you:
- Assess the circumstances and details of your credit card fraud case
- Uncover facts that can benefit your case
- Assess the harm and the potential repercussions of your actions
- Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your individual case
- Devise a strategy based on knowledge of credit card fraud law and legal theory
- Anticipate the strategy of the victim’s attorney
- Determine the legal course of action moving forward, such as negotiating a plea or going to trial
How Can a Credit Card Fraud Lawyer Help Me?
If you’re facing credit card fraud charges, it is advised that you seek the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help review several common defenses against charges of credit card fraud or related financial crimes such as double jeopardy, mistaken identity, lack of intent and lack of evidence.
An attorney may also get a better outcome than you would get on your own. A credit card fraud attorney would work to defend your actions, protect your rights, and represent you in federal court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can also help significantly reduce the severity of any consequences you may face, as they have developed a solid understanding of the law and can present the best defense for your specific situation.