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Credit Card Fraud, Definitions and Penalties

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Credit Card Fraud, Definitions and Penalties

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud may, depending on the jurisdiction, be charged as a separate crime, or may be considered as part of another criminal offense. No matter what the specifically charged offense, a person who is convicted of committing credit card fraud can face serious penalties.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud can encompass any number of criminal acts. However, credit card fraud always involves an offender using a credit card in a fraudulent manner to obtain goods or services with the intent to avoid paying for those goods or services. Examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Stealing a credit card belonging to another person; this can occur if a victim’s wallet is stolen, or an offender may steal a credit card from a victim’s mailbox or may contact a victim’s credit card company and have a new card sent to the offender’s address
  • Obtaining a credit card through application fraud – an offender can use a victim’s personally identifying information to obtain a credit card account in the victim’s name. Or the offender may try to obtain an account in his or her own name but provide false information such as false employment or income information
  • Obtaining credit card numbers and then using them to make unauthorized charges for goods and services that are delivered to the offender
  • Creating or altering a fraudulent credit card, often using legitimate credit card information, to purchase goods and services

Other Crimes Commonly Involved with Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is often charged as or alongside other criminal offenses that are commonly involved with credit card fraud. Commonly, credit card fraud is a part of a larger identity theft. Identity theft involves using a victim’s personal identifying or financial information for the offender’s financial gain. Identity theft can be a part of credit card fraud when the offender uses the victim’s information to use his or her’s credit card account to purchase goods or services or to open a credit card account in the victim’s name. 

Credit card fraud can also be committed while committing other criminal offenses, such as computer fraud by stealing data from computers or computer networks, accessing protected computer systems in an unauthorized manner, or installing malicious software to obtain personally identifying or financial information or obtain some other financial gain.

Elements of the Offense of Credit Card Fraud

In most states, the elements of credit card fraud that the prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt include:

  • A defendant fraudulently obtained or forged another person’s name on a credit card application or credit card transaction or,
  • A defendant uses a credit card with knowledge that it is expired, revoked, or lacks sufficient funds to pay for the purchase goods or services or,
  • A defendant sells goods or services to another person known that person’s credit card was obtained illegally or was used in an unauthorized or unlawful manner

Defenses to Credit Card Fraud Charges

In many credit card fraud cases involving the unauthorized use of a credit card or credit card account, the defense often revolves around demonstrating that the defendant lacked the requisite knowledge required by the elements of the credit card fraud criminal statute. For example, a person who makes an unauthorized use of a credit card may try to argue that they reasonably believed their use of the card was authorized. Or a seller of goods or services may argue that they lacked knowledge that the purchaser had illegally obtained their credit card or was using it in an unauthorized or unlawful fashion.

Contact an Experienced Hamilton Township Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Credit Card Fraud Charges in New Jersey 

Were you arrested or charged with credit card fraud in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The Law Offices of Lauren E. Scardella has successfully represented clients charged with credit card fraud in East Windsor, West Windsor, Hopewell, Robbinsville, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 587-1144 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.