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Is It Illegal to Use Someone Else's Credit Card?

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with only hands visible someone taps a credit card to a card reader held by another person

Is using someone else's credit card for your own purposes illegal? Yes, it is indeed unlawful. Under federal and state law, fraudulently using someone else's credit card or making purchases with their account without permission could have serious legal consequences. In some cases, this type of fraud may even lead to extended jail time.

There can be a lot of grey areas when it comes to credit card fraud cases, and the circumstances of each case will affect how it is charged and prosecuted. Below we review what credit card fraud is, how the New York penal code defines it, and what to do if you have been accused of stealing or using someone else's credit card.

What Is Credit Card Fraud?

Credit card fraud is a common form of identity theft, where someone gains access to physical credit cards, valid credit card numbers, and credit card account information and uses this information to make unauthorized purchases, withdrawals, or payments without the knowledge or permission of the cardholder. It also includes using someone else's account information to make fraudulent purchases, taking cash advances without authorization, and stealing cards to gain access to accounts. Stolen credit card numbers may also be used to transfer funds between accounts or create new credit lines.

Credit card fraud can also occur:

  • In-person with a physical copy of your card
  • Online using only your banking or card info
  • Through in-app purchases

Credit card fraud is a type of identity theft, so understanding the concept of identity theft is key to understanding credit card fraud. Identity theft generally involves the fraudulent use of another person's personal information for financial gain or illegal activities. Because credit card fraud can cause serious damage to the individual whose credit cards have been stolen - including financial distress and damaged credit score - prosecutors are incredibly aggressive when pursuing charges.

How Are These Cases Prosecuted?

Credit card fraud cases may be prosecuted at either the state or the federal level depending on the specifics of the case. In cases involving interstate or international transactions, the federal government will likely be involved. Meanwhile, New York has its own laws against credit card fraud outlined in the state's Penal Code, and most credit card fraud cases are handled at the state level.

In New York, it is illegal to:

  • Obtain or attempt to obtain services on a credit basis using a credit or debit card that is known to be stolen (Section 165.15)
  • Obtain or attempt to obtain property or service by using or displaying a credit card, debit card, or benefits card that is known to be revoked or canceled (Section 165.17)
  • Knowingly possess stolen property, including credit cards, debit cards, or public benefits cards (Section 165.45)

Someone accused of stealing another person's credit or debit card may also be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, which is a class E felony (Section 155.30). Similarly, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree is also charged as a class E felony in New York.

What to Do If You Are Charged with Credit Card Fraud in Nassau County

If you have been arrested for credit card fraud or accused of identity theft, it is essential that you act quickly to protect your rights and future. At Foley Griffin, our experienced Nassau County criminal defense attorneys provide skilled legal representation for our clients who find themselves in such situations. We understand the complexities of credit card fraud and identity theft cases, drawing on our deep experience with law enforcement and the courts. Our team can help evaluate your case to determine the best course of action and help you devise a strong defense strategy you feel confident in.

Don't leave your future in the hands of chance: contact Foley Griffin today so we can start protecting your rights now.