credit-card-fraudIf you are under investigation for credit card fraud, you must hire an experienced attorney for your defense. Attorney Michael J. Petro has assisted individuals accused of white-collar crimes in Chicago and the state of Illinois for nearly 30 years.

Credit card fraud is a specific type of identity theft involving the illegal charging of goods or services  to someone else’s account. Although federal law limits the liability of cardholders to $50 in most cases, financial institutions incur significant losses each year from credit card fraud.

Laws related to credit card fraud impose criminal penalties for unauthorized or illegal use of someone else’s card in an effort to steal goods, services or funds. Illinois state statutes, as well as federal laws, prohibit such activity, and penalties can be severe.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

There are a variety of ways for individuals to steal credit card information, from the traditional method of going through the trash to newer, high-tech methods.  

Frequently today, stolen credit card information is sold for a price on the internet.  The buyer of the false information then places the stolen information on the magnetic strip of a blank credit card.  Once the phony credit card is created, the card is sold to someone who then uses the card to illegally purchase goods and services.  This type of theft constitutes the most common type of modern credit card fraud.

In the past, identity thieves targeted individuals by finding discarded billing statements, intercepting postal mail, or looking over someone’s shoulder as they made a purchase. Today, account information more frequently is obtained through digital means, including mass hacking of banks and retail stores.

Phone scams — such as calls claiming to offer a free trip, provided that the recipient give a credit card number to hold the reservation — remain popular as a method for stealing personal information.

Schemes relating to credit card fraud typically fall into two broad categories. In application fraud, an unauthorized person opens accounts in someone else’s name, either through the use of counterfeit documents or by obtaining personal information from the victim.

Another method of credit card fraud is an account takeover. Under this scheme, a perpetrator gains personal information about a victim and changes the billing address for an existing credit account. The card then is reported as lost or stolen, a new card is sent to the new address, and the perpetrator is able to make charges.

Credit Card Fraud Punishment

Penalties for credit card fraud vary according to the extent of the crime, the dollar values involved, and what specific laws have been broken. If you have been charged with credit card fraud, it’s important to understand the potential penalties based on the severity of the charges against you.

For example, a fraud that involves a minimal amount of money might carry a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,5000. At the other end of the spectrum, felony credit card fraud that includes cash or goods of significant value could result in a penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000.

Mounting an Effective Criminal Defense

In addition to the potential criminal penalties that can result from being charged with credit card fraud, defendants can lose their job and pension for conviction of this frequently reported offense. To avoid going to prison and protecting your reputation, hire experienced criminal defense attorney Michael J. Petro.  By hiring Michael J. Petro for your criminal defense, you gain decades of experience and knowledge defending clients in the Chicago area charged with credit card fraud. For a consultation, please contact Michael J. Petro at 888-457-2676.