What is Credit Card Fraud?

Credit card fraud
Credit card fraud is when you use or attempt to use a credit or debit card in an unlawful manner. This includes using someone’s account number as well. You are only guilty of credit card fraud if you intend to use the credit or debit card intentionally fraudulent. So if you didn’t intend to use the credit card in a fraudulent manner then you should not be convicted. There are different types of credit card fraud including:

  • forgery,
  • grand theft, and
  • petty theft.

Penalties for Credit Card Fraud

The penalties for credit card fraud depend on the specific circumstances. Here are some specific types of credit card fraud and their penalties.

Stolen Credit Cards

A stolen credit card offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history.
Penalties as a felony include:

  • probation and up to a year in a county jail, or
  • 16 months, or two or three years in a county jail, and/or
  • up to a $10,000 fine.

Penalties and a misdemeanor include:

  • up to one year in a county jail, and
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

If a credit card was stolen with the intent to use it, but you don’t actually do so, it can only be punishable by:

  • up to six months in a county jail, and,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.
Forging Credit Card Information

This law if violated by altering an actual credit or debit card, creating a fake credit card, and/or signing someone else’s name on a transaction using a credit or debit card without that person’s authorization. Forgery can also be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor and is punishable by the same as a stolen credit card charge.

Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card or Account Information

This law is violated when you knowingly use a stolen, altered, counterfeit, forged, expired, or revoked credit or debit card with the intent to obtain money or anything of value. The penalties for this crime depends on the value of the items you receive. If the value exceeds $950 in a consecutive six-month period, the offense is punished as grand theft. If the value is $950 or less, the offense is punished as petty theft.

Counterfeiting Credit Cards

You are guilty of counterfeiting credit cards when you:

  • possess and incomplete credit card with the intent to complete it without the consent of the issuer,
  • alter, change, or modify any part of the credit card with the intent to defraud,
  • allow another person to alter or modify the credit card or account information, or
  • make, possess, or sell/exchange credit card making equipment or incomplete credit cards knowing that the recipient will make counterfeit credit or debit cards.

If you are in possession of an incomplete credit card with the intent to complete it, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and punished by:

  • up to six months in jail, and
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

    Altering, changing or modifying credit card information is a forgery crime and can be a felony or a misdemeanor. It is punishable the same as forging credit card information.
    If you are convicted of an offense involving card making equipment, it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties when charged as a felony include:

    • a maximum fine of $10,000, and/or
    • 16 months or two or three years in a county jail.

    The penalties when charged as a misdemeanor include:

    • a maximum fine of $1,000, and/or
    • up to six months in jail.

    Legal Defenses for Credit Card Fraud

    An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you fight against a credit card fraud offense. Some of the most common legal defenses for credit card fraud include:

    • No Fraudulent Intent
    • If you didn’t have fraudulent intent then you are not guilty. Making a mistake or being ignorant can be a good enough reason to have the charges dropped.

    • Insufficient Evidence
    • Even if you did have fraudulent intent, this charge can be acquitted if the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to prove every element of the crime.

    • Mistaken Identity
    • Credit card fraud does not always happen in front of a witness, so sometimes it can be difficult to find the true culprit.

    Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight against your credit card fraud charges.

    Any questions? Contact us.