It’s hard to manage without having at least one credit card on hand. Unfortunately, the widespread use of credit online and in traditional shopping venues has increased the potential for fraud to take place. Understanding what credit card fraud involves and what should be done if someone is accused of such an action is important. Here is some information that will come in handy should charges of this type be leveled at an individual.
The Basics of Credit Card Fraud
With this type of fraud, the key thing to understand is that the claim revolves around the usage of a credit card account. Fraud takes place when that account information is utilized without the express permission of the cardholder. The way that the information is used may vary. Unscrupulous individuals may charge items to the card and create debt that must be resolved in some manner. Another approach may be to use the credit card account details to open additional accounts without the knowledge or the consent of the cardholder. The result can be a mountain of debt and a ruined credit rating.
Dealing with Unauthorized Credit Card Use
When the cardholder becomes aware of the unauthorized use of the account, the first move is to contact the card issuer. This begins an investigation into the date and time the disputed transactions took place. In many instances, the card issuer will deny payment on those charges, close the account, and open a new one for the account holder in a matter of minutes.
The cardholder also needs to file a report with local law enforcement authorities. The report will include the list of unauthorized purchases and provide the basis for opening an investigation. Thanks to the surveillance methods used in many retail locations today, it’s possible to pick up clues that lead to suspects and increase the odds of capturing the person who committed the crime.
If new accounts were opened using the cardholder’s data, it can be a long and arduous process to track them down and order them closed. Credit reporting agencies can provide some help in terms of contact data to issuers of newly opened accounts.
What are the Penalties of Credit Card Fraud?
The unauthorized use of credit card information is considered a felony and is often classed as a form of identity theft. This leaves the person convicted of the crime facing time in jail and a series of fines. The decision of the court will be based on the past record of the convicted party, the volume of fraud that took place, and the damage done to the cardholder along the way.
In the state of New York, the fraudulent use of a credit card is covered under the provisions found in the New York Penal Law 170.10. The use of the card amounts to forgery in the second degree. Classified as a D felony, it is possible to that a person convicted of this crime could be sentenced to as long as seven years in a state prison.
There are other provisions under current New York law that would relate to other forms of fraudulent use of a credit card. Some of them include fraud committed by the cardholder proper. For example, if the cardholder attempts to use the card as a form of identification or in any other way while knowing the issuer has revoked the card, this could be viewed as a criminal action.
Other laws cover the opening of additional accounts using stolen credit card information. Along with being responsible for any open balances on those new accounts, the perpetrator would also face prison time and a series of fines.
Dealing with Allegations of Credit Card Fraud
Should charges of fraud be made, it pays to seek help from a lawyer as quickly as possible. The goal is to review all the evidence surrounding the accusation and determine if there is any basis for taking legal action. Looking closely at what detail support the opportunity to gain possession of the physical card or at least the account details is key to preparing a defense.
Never take charges of this type lightly or assume that they cannot be proven. Hire legal counsel immediately, cooperate fully with the lawyer and the authorities, and do what needs to be done to bring the matter to an end before any more damage takes place.
We handle credit card fraud in all 5 boroughs, including: Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan.
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