Credit Card Abuse: What Is It and What Are the Penalties?
- August 26, 2015
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Credit Card Abuse: What Is It and What Are the Penalties?
Credit and debit card abuse is a relatively common offense in the state of Texas. Although there are many different types of credit card abuse, this crime usually involves using a credit card in an inappropriate or illegal way. Depending on the nature and severity of a particular instance of abuse, the penalties can range from moderate to severe. In some cases, this kind of abuse could lead to federal criminal charges. Texas law enforcement and federal law enforcement agencies use sophisticated techniques to catch people who engage in this illegal activity.
What Is Credit Card Abuse?
Credit card abuse charges are usually filed when a person allegedly uses a credit card without authorization in order to obtain some kind of benefit. Also known as credit card fraud, this offense can cover many different activities.
For example, credit card fraud charges can be filed if:
- A person uses a credit card belonging to someone else to make purchases
- A person is in possession of another person’s credit card with intent to use it
- Selling a stolen credit card
- Receiving items or goods that were illegally obtained with a credit card
- Using an account number or credit card number belonging to another person
- Stealing a credit card
According to the law, it is not necessary for a person to actually use a stolen credit card in order to be charged with fraud. For example, if a person steals a credit card and the prosecution can prove that the defendant intended to use the card, a conviction may be possible. Additionally, a person does not have to actually be in possession of a stolen card in order to be arrested and charged. Simply typing in another person’s card number for an online transaction without authorization can lead to criminal charges.
How Credit Card Abuse Is Investigated
There are many different techniques that law enforcement agencies use to detect and stop credit card fraud. These tactics range from basic to very sophisticated. Although many cases of stolen credit cards may be solved after the card owner reports a theft, this is not the only way that credit card abuse is investigated.
Some investigation techniques include:
- Retailers reporting suspicious activity
- Tracing unauthorized online purchases
- Card owners reporting cases of theft
- Sting operations formed by the police
Many credit cards are now printed with the owner’s full name and photo right on the card. In certain cases, a watchful cashier will be able to spot a difference between the picture on the card and the appearance of the person making the purchase. If this kind of suspicious activity is reported, the store employee’s testimony and security camera footage could lead to an arrest.
Credit cards are frequently used to make online purchases. If a card owner reports their credit card as missing or stolen and then purchases are made with that card, a bank or financial institution may be able to contact law enforcement. In these cases, law enforcement agencies may be able to track the illegal online purchases to a specific location.
Hackers or thieves who obtain stolen credit card information sometimes try to make a profit by selling the illegally obtained details online. Police agencies may pose as buyers or sellers of stolen credit card information in order to conduct a sting operation.
The legal consequences for credit card fraud can be very serious. In Texas, all credit card abuse offenses are prosecuted as felonies. A conviction on one of these counts can lead to years in prison.
According to Section 32 of the Texas Penal Code, a person who is convicted of credit or debit card abuse may face penalties associated with a state jail felony, including:
- 180 days or up to two years incarceration in state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- However, if the victim of a case of credit or debit card abuse is an elderly person, the charge could be enhanced to a third degree felony. This could lead to:
- Incarceration in prison for a term of two years or up to 10 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Any person who is facing charges of credit card abuse in Texas could be dealing with some serious consequences. Consulting an attorney as soon as possible is the best strategy for creating a strong legal defense against these kinds of charges.