Credit Card Fraud and Attendant Penalties

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Credit card fraud is on the rise, and in response, prosecutors take these crimes very seriously. In fact, the severity of associated penalties may surprise you. Further, federal prosecutors are continually honing their skills when it comes to hunting alleged cybercriminals, which likely means we can expect to see more prosecutions related to credit card fraud coming our way. If you are facing a charge of credit card fraud, seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced Waco criminal defense attorney.

Nearly All of Us Use Credit Cards

There are very few people out there who do not use credit cards at one point or another in our lives, and this means that there are plenty of opportunities for credit card fraud to take place. In fact, more and more of us do all of our business with credit cards and similar forms of electronic banking. Consider all of the following common transactions:

  • Paying bills online automatically

  • Subscribing for online services

  • shopping online

  • Purchasing gas at the pump

In fact, relying on our credit cards has become second nature to most of us, and it is difficult to remember what paying with cash and checks was like.

Credit Card Fraud Is a Form of Identity Theft

Credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of identity theft, and it is on the rise. Related losses total in the billions of dollars, and the number of people affected total in the millions (each year). Data breaches are a common outlet for credit card fraud – often leading to cascading numbers of credit card accounts being fraudulently opened under other people’s names.

The Associated Penalties

Crimes related to credit card fraud can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level – or, in some cases, at both levels. Credit card fraud, however, is commonly prosecuted at the federal level (which makes the charges that much more serious) for all of the following reasons:

  • Most credit card transactions – by their very nature – cross state lines, which makes fraudulent transactions federal crimes.

  • The federal government has a much broader legal reach than does the State of Texas – and has more significant resources to boot.

  • Federal task forces that deal with cybercrimes are generally better equipped to go after credit card fraud.

Federal penalties for garden variety credit card fraud regarding the use of a stolen or fraudulently obtained credit card include fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years. Charges and penalties, however, can get far more serious from here. For example, the charge of identity theft carries from 10 to 20 years in prison. Further, if you are also caught with the tools of the credit card fraud trade, such as credit card skimmers, it can increase the penalties you face.

An Experienced Waco Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are facing a charge of credit card fraud, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Waco is a reputable criminal defense attorney whose practice is dedicated to helping clients like you obtain optimal case outcomes. To learn more, please contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


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