Credit card fraud is a blanket term that is used to describe a range of financial crimes that involve a credit card and some form of lie, theft, or misuse. Credit card fraud cases can be incredibly simple or incredibly complex, depending on the circumstances of the fraud in question.
To see what you should do if you’re accused of credit card fraud in New Jersey, we will first look at the various types of credit card fraud. These will help to give us an idea of the range of illegal activities relating to credit cards. Next, we’ll view the penalties for being found guilty of credit card fraud. Then close out with a look at what defenses are available against a credit card fraud charge, which will help you decide what steps to take next.
What Are the Types of Credit Card Fraud?
As mentioned, there are several different types of credit card fraud that one could be accused of. Each type of credit card fraud shares the presence of a credit card and some form of crime. However, the exact details of one type could be incredibly different from another.
The five most common types of credit card fraud are:
- Card Alteration: Card alteration is when you physically alter a credit card. For example, you may add a magnetic strip to the card to change its coding. It is also considered card alteration when you increase the credit limit on a card without the card owner’s permission.
- Card Theft: Credit card theft also comes in several forms itself. It could be taking a credit card without the owner’s consent; signing a credit card without being authorized to do so; accepting a mistakenly delivered card; manufacturing a counterfeit card; buying a card from a non-issuer; or accepting a credit card as security on a debt. If you have more than two stolen credit cards on your person, New Jersey law presumes that you have committed credit card theft.
- Skimming: This is committed by using a device to steal credit card information. This type of crime often happens in retail or restaurants where a staff member can use a skimmer on the card while they use it to complete the customer’s transaction.
- Account Takeover: This is the crime of obtaining another person’s personal information to obtain a credit card in the cardholder’s name by reporting a change of address or reporting the original card as stolen.
- Fraudulent Application: Lying to obtain a credit card is illegal. Providing inaccurate information for the purpose of getting a card could mean lying about income, your name, or using inauthentic pieces of identification.
What Are the Penalties for Credit Card Fraud in New Jersey?
Being found guilty of credit card fraud brings with it a slew of penalties that nobody would want. This is because, unless otherwise stated, credit card fraud is charged as a felony. If it were a misdemeanor, it would still carry a fine and up to a year of jail time. But as a felony, it is much worse than this.
Credit card fraud is a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey. As such, being found guilty means that you face up to eighteen months in prison. If that wasn’t bad enough, you will also face fines of up to $10,000.
There is also another penalty, though not one that is handed out by our legal system. A credit card fraud conviction will stay on your record unless it is expunged. This might not seem very important at first glance but it can mean the difference between getting a job or not getting a job. An employer may ask for a criminal record check, see the conviction, and consider you untrustworthy for employment at their company. This is not a legal penalty but one that could be just as damaging as jail time or a fine.
What Defenses Are there for a Credit Card Fraud Charge?
The best thing you can do if you are accused of credit card fraud in New Jersey is to work with an experienced attorney to craft a defense.
There are a number of potential defenses that could be used, such as:
- You Are a Victim of Identity Theft: If your information was stolen and used to obtain a credit card with false information, then you are truly a victim in this situation as well.
- You Believed You Were Authorized: If you believed that you were authorized to use the card, you might not be guilty of a crime but simply just an awkward misunderstanding.
- You Are a Victim of Entrapment: Entrapment is a way of pushing people to take actions they wouldn’t have otherwise. If your credit card fraud arose from entrapment then that could be the key to a solid defense.
- You Were Coerced: If you were acting under threat of harm then you are also a victim in this case and those threatening you are the real criminals.
- You Had No Intent to Benefit: A true act of credit card fraud requires that the card be taken, acquired, or used for your own benefit. If you weren’t benefiting, then there might not be an actual case of credit card fraud and so a lesser charge or a dismissal might be called for.
I’ve Been Accused of Credit Card Fraud, What Do I Do Now?
The best thing to do is to reach out to Bianchi Law Group to speak to one of our experienced attorneys. Our job is to help keep innocent people from being wrongfully convicted and we take that very seriously.
An experienced attorney will work with you to go over the details of your case. This process will allow them to understand the specifics of the case and use them to determine which defensive tactic is the best approach. They’ll also be able to provide you with information about what to expect from the process, what steps to take before your court date, as well as answer any questions you have.
So if you’ve been wrongfully charged with credit card fraud, reach out to Bianchi Law Group today.