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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.
A debit card is a convenient tool for consumers to use when making purchases at the grocery store, at a restaurant or online. Like a credit card, it is a piece of plastic with a chip or magnetic strip used to authenticate an account. Therefore, just like a credit card, it is possible for individuals to scam card numbers or otherwise gain access to a debit card in a fraudulent manner.
What Are the Penalties for Debit Card Fraud?
In the state of New York, using a stolen debit card to make a purchase or otherwise derive a benefit is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. If you are found to be in possession of a stolen credit or debit card, you could be charged with a felony and spend up to four years in jail. In addition, you face a fine of up to $5,000 or double the amount gained from the crime. For those who have committed a felony in the last 10 years, a prison sentence of up to three years may be included.
Federal Penalties May Apply in Addition to State Penalties
In the event that you use a stolen debit card to commit fraud across state lines, you could face federal charges. Federal charges may also come into play if you steal government property or use a government debit card to commit fraud. In many cases, an individual could face up to 20 years in prison in addition to a large fine on top of whatever state sentence is handed down.
What Are the Defenses to Debit Card Fraud
One of the keys to proving that fraud took place was the intent of the individual using the card. For instance, if you didn’t know that the card that you were using was stolen or cancelled, there is little chance that you could be prosecuted. Also, you generally have to steal more than $1,000 before you face any serious charges.
In the event that you have permission to use a debit card that belongs to someone else, you may be able to defend against a charge of fraud. For instance, if your roommate says that you stole money from him or her, you could argue that you had permission to use the card to make a specific purchase. From there, bank statements and other records may be used to prove your assertion.
Plea Bargains Could Help Reduce Penalties
A plea bargain results in a conviction on a specific set of charges that may or may not relate to the original charge itself. For instance, if you are charged with felony federal debit card fraud, it may be possible to reduce the charge to petty larceny. This depends partially on the strength of the case against you as well as your prior track record and other facts in the case.
Prosecutors and judges may be willing to work with those who are first-time offenders or who show remorse for their actions. Instead of jail or prison time, a plea bargain may allow an offender to spend time on probation or do community service in lieu of a fine. Downgrading a charge from a felony to a misdemeanor may also impact whether that person can vote, own a gun or find employment.
If you have been charged with debit card fraud, it is important that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney may take steps to have your case dismissed or negotiate a plea bargain. This may make it easier to clear your name or otherwise come to terms on a sentence that is as favorable as possible.
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