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Credit Card Fraud Law

Credit card fraud is a criminal offense defined as the deceptive or unauthorized use of another person's credit card in order to steal money, goods or services. Credit card fraud law ensures that these criminal offenses are met with the appropriate punishment. Because of the increasing incidences of credit card in the United States, the federal and state government are in concerted efforts to penalize the offenders by enacting statutes preventing these crimes in all levels of government and utilizing both the local police and the U.S. Secret Service to enforce these laws.

Credit card fraud may be committed in three ways: (1) by fraudulently obtaining and using someone else's credit card or card information; (2) by using his own card knowing the card has been revoked or is expired; and (3) by selling goods or services using a card without authority or was illegally obtained.

Credit card fraud can be categorized into two: (1) card present, where the actual card is stolen and used, and (2) card not present, when only the credit card number and information are stolen and used.

In order to gain possession of the actual credit card, the thief may actually steal the card or perform acts that will result to him gaining possession of the credit card, such as applying for a credit card under the victim's name or seeking for a replacement card by modifying the victim's address. Because credit cards can be used online or over the phone, card not present cases are difficult to pursue. Card not present crimes are also often organized crimes as the card numbers and other important information are obtained usually through ATMs and gas pump terminals. Moreover, card numbers and details can also be obtained through phishing or fake websites appearing like legitimate sites.

Penalties accompanying conviction from credit card fraud vary from state to state. State legislation also does not provide for specific penalties for credit card fraud convictions. Rather, the total dollar value of the items obtained determines the penalties. In most states, the value obtained through credit card fraud can elevate the act from misdemeanor, when no property is obtained or when the amount of the property does not exceed $500, to felony, when the value of the property is significant. A maximum fine of $1,000 and a prison term of up to one year accompany a misdemeanor, while a fine of $25,000 and a prison term of 15 years accompany a felony.

If facing prosecution for credit card fraud, it is imperative to hire the services of credit card fraud law attorneys to minimize the horrible experience. With credit card fraud being rampant today, courts are inclined not to treat those charged with these crimes leniently. Being charged with credit card fraud has serious impact on the individual as this can lead to embarrassment, especially as there abundance of media coverage on these cases. A credit card fraud law attorney can review the prosecutor's evidences and spot any discrepancies, which, no matter how minor, may lead to a reduced penalty and jail term.

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