Fraud of all types costs US consumers millions of dollars every year in increased fees for things like insurance, merchandise, and credit card fees. In fact, credit card fraud is considered a Federal offense. It is listed under Title 18, Section 1029 of the US Code. While each state sets its own sentencing based on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, there are some normal limits.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
If it is decided that the crime is a misdemeanor then the initial punishment is likely to be 90 days in prison. Repeat offenders can expect a year. Of course, felonies carry stiffer penalties.
There are both Class B and Class C felonies for credit card fraud. A first offense for a Class B felony can result in anything from probation to 20 years in prison. If the same crime is committed more than once it gets classified as a Class C felony which carries an even steeper punishment.
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On average, minimum jail time for credit card fraud usually gets 3-6 years in the slammer, while maximum time is 7.5 to 15 years. Some states will put repeat offenders away for up to 20 years.
Be aware, that even a misdemeanor stays on your record forever. If you are a first time offender, and you don’t have a repeat record then you have an option. After one year you can go to court and ask to have your file expunged, or sealed. This means that no one else can view it. Of course, this looks suspicious in its self. You might be better off owning up to your one time mistake under these circumstances.
Defining Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud occurs when one person uses a card they don’t own to make purchases, without the owner’s permission or knowledge. It also covers counterfeiting cards, or obtaining credit cards illegally through the mail. While many people worry about the safety of credit card use over the internet, there is also a lot of fraud that takes place with lost cards and those used in public places like restaurants and shops.
Restaurant and shop fraud is far too common. This can occur when a patron uses a stolen card to pay for a meal or purchase, or when a dishonest employee takes advantage of the opportunity to swipe a person’s card unknowingly.
Before anyone falls for the temptation to take what they can get from another person’s card, it is good to be aware of the high price this type of identity theft will cost if you get caught.
Avoiding Credit Card Theft
In order to avoid credit card fraud, vendors should always check signatures and ask for ID if necessary. Consumers need to keep track of their purchases and use their card carefully. Avoid places, like many restaurants, where your card is taken to a remote location to be processed. Always know who has your card and what they are doing with it! When first obtaining a card through tools like the Card Chaser, look for specific identity theft protection details.
If You’ve Committed Fraud
If you have committed credit card fraud and are being convicted, you need to seek legal help immediately. A qualified attorney can best advise you of the steps that you need to take.
Since the severity of punishments for fraud runs the gamut from mere probation to 20 years in prison it is in your best interest to get the best legal advice you can, as quickly as possible.
If You’re Worried About Credit Card Fraud
If you are worried about potential credit card fraud then it becomes even more important to choose a credit card with strong fraud protection measures. Take a look at our free credit card “Chaser” credit card search tool to find and compare the best credit cards today!
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