Credit card abuse or fraud is a type of identify theft involving taking someone else's credit card information without authorization. If authorities have accused you of doing this, they assume that you were trying to charge purchases to the other person's account or to remove funds from it.
Facing a charge involving credit card abuse can understandably be frightening due to the stiff consequences that come with a conviction, such as prison time and large fines, as this type of charge is a felony in Texas. However, you have the right to defend yourself in the criminal court system.
What qualifies as credit card fraud?
Fraud involving a credit card can involve any of the following:
- Acquiring, signing, selling or buying somebody else's credit card information fraudulently
- Selling services or goods to somebody else while knowing that the credit card being used to make the transaction was obtained illegally and is being used without permission
- Using a personal credit card that has already expired or been revoked or that is tied to an account that the person knows lacks sufficient funds for the transaction
Credit card fraud comes in different forms
- Identify assumption: Occurs when you use someone else's identification information over time to make credit card purchases
- Identify theft: Occurs when you use somebody else's credit card to commit crimes, including fraud
- Fraud spree: Takes place when individuals have racked up charges on multiple accounts without having authorization
A credit card crime usually falls under either one of two categories: account takeover and application fraud. An account takeover typically involves criminally hijacking an existing account by getting enough of a victim's personal information to change his or her address. Then, the person committing the crime reports the card as stolen or lost to get a brand new card and use it fraudulently.
Application fraud involves opening credit card accounts under other people's names without authorization. This is possible either by getting sufficient information about the victim to fill out an application in his or her name, or by creating counterfeit application documents that look convincing.
If you face a criminal charge of credit card fraud, you have the right to proceed to trial to fight the charge, or you may wish to pursue a plea deal with prosecutors. A plea deal may offer the advantage of a lighter sentence than what would be rendered following a finding of guilt at trial. However, an attorney can use many defenses on your behalf, such as the lack of the intent to defraud, error or coercion. An experienced attorney will fight for the most favorable outcome for you while also making sure that your rights are protected during the criminal proceeding.