Credit cards today are an essential modern convenience which almost every American adult uses on a regular basis to accomplish a wide variety of objectives.
The vast majority of Texans use their cards correctly and legally. However, some criminal elements among us choose to use credit cards and/or credit card information for fraudulent purposes.
A while back, the Dallas-Fort Worth area ranked highly among the most notorious credit card fraud hotspots in the United States. This was attributed to the Metroplex having more credit cards — and credit card debt — than most other parts of the nation.
Defining Credit Card Fraud in Texas
Fraud boils down to someone using deceit to obtain some benefit to which they are not legally entitled (theft). Credit card fraud, therefore, is a broad term for theft by fraudulent activity that is committed using credit cards.
These crimes primarily revolves around unauthorized credit card usage or stolen and compromised credit card information. Under the Texas penal code section 32.31, these are the crimes associated with credit card fraud:
- Presenting or using a debit or credit card knowing it’s not yours and that the cardholder hasn’t given you consent.
- Presenting or using a debit or credit card that has been canceled, revoked, or that expired with intent to fraudulently benefit from the act.
- Using a fake debit or credit card or any false description or number from a fake card
- Stealing a debit or credit card
- Receiving and intending to use, transfer, or sell a stolen credit or debit card
- Knowingly buying a debit or credit card from an unauthorized issuer
- Knowingly selling a debit or credit card in spite of not being an authorized issuer
- Knowingly convincing a debit or credit cardholder to obtain goods, property, or services using their card, for your benefit, knowing that they are incapable of paying.
- Knowingly possessing and intending to use a debit or credit card which doesn’t belong to you, without permission from the rightful cardholder.
- Benefiting from debit or credit card abuse in any way as defined by the law. (Officially, credit card fraud is indistinguishable from credit card abuse.)
Credit Card Fraud at the Federal Level
Credit card fraud was first recognized as a major legal issue in the 1980s. In 1984, the Credit Card Fraud Act was signed into law to try and put an end to the illegal acquisition and misuse of credit card data.
The act is codified in 18 U.S. Code § 1029, which makes it clear that an individual can be charged with a federal offense if they intentionally and knowingly obtain credit card information illegally even if they never physically touch the card.
Various other forms of credit card fraud are criminalized in 15 U.S. Code § 1644, more so those that involve interstate or foreign fraud.
Consequently, credit fraud in Texas may be tried as either a federal or state offense.
Texas Credit Card Fraud Charges
Charges of credit card fraud is often intertwined with other crimes. In addition to being charged with a specific credit card fraud offense, one may also be charged with identity theft, credit fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud and money laundering among several other possible crimes.
Because of this, you owe it to yourself to find the best Ft. Worth legal representation if you wind up facing a credit card fraud charge in Texas.
In any case, both state and federal credit card fraud convictions can lead to lengthy incarceration and/or hefty fines. Federal crimes typically have more significant and severe punishments than state-level crime.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.