The holidays are in full swing. Many people are out and about buying holiday gifts for their family and friends in stores and online. With more purchases being made and credit card bills running high, someone might not notice a purchase on their bill that they didn't make.
Currently, millions of Americans carry multiple credit cards and many of the credit card holders use them for holiday shopping. Credit cards are everywhere. Because they are so prevalent, credit card fraud is on the rise, and the holidays are a prime time go after someone's card.
There are a number of reasons why someone might commit credit card fraud. Maybe they were in desperate need of money fast. Or they thought it was essentially a victimless crime because credit card companies typically cover losses on people's cards due to theft. Perhaps committing the act provided a rush. It's even possible that someone might be accused when they are completely innocent.
Regardless, if you are charged with credit card fraud, you need to take it very seriously and start working with a skilled Chicago fraud attorney as soon as possible. Consequences can include fines, probation, jail time, restitution, or a combination of those penalties.
Let's look at what the credit card fraud laws are in Illinois and the penalties associated with this crime.
What Constitutes Credit Card Fraud?
In Illinois, the credit card fraud law covers a wide range of crimes involving the wrongful possession, sale, or use of a credit card or debit card. Because a number of crimes fall under this credit card fraud law umbrella, it's important to understand the types of crimes that are prohibited.
- Making a false statement to get a credit or debit card. What this means is that you can't fill out a form to receive a credit or debit card with false information – which you know is false – with the intent that the information will get you a credit card. Putting a false social security number on a credit card form would fit here.
- Getting ahold of someone else's credit or debit card without the other person's approval. If you are in possession of a card knowing that it was received without consent, and you intend to use, sell, or transfer it, then that is credit card fraud.
- Possessing a lost or misplaced credit or debit card. You know it was lost or misplaced and you intend to use, sell, or transfer it.
- Selling or buying a credit or debit card without the cardholder's consent and knowing that the cardholder didn't give consent.
Using an expired, forged, counterfeited, unissued, or revoked credit or debit card.This falls under 2 categories.
- You illegally obtained the card without the cardholder's consent or the card is known to be fake, expired, etc., with the intent to purchase something.
- You illegally obtained the card without the cardholder's consent and you pretend that you are actually the cardholder.
- Using a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud the credit card company or another person.
Penalties of Credit Card Fraud
The seriousness of credit card fraud charges is determined by the cash value of all the items purchased or intended to be purchased over a 6-month period.
All of the crimes listed above – except two – are classified as Class 4 felonies, which is the lowest level of a felony offense. A Class 4 felony is punishable by:
- 1 to 3 years in jail, or
- Periodic imprisonment of up to 18 months where the offender is allowed to be released for work, employment, family reasons, or other approved reasons, or
- Probation for up to 30 months if the court can determine that jail or periodic imprisonment is appropriate or necessary, and
- A fine of up to $25,000 for each offense committed, restitution, or both.
Restitution is when you have to pay the original credit card holder for the items or the harm caused by your actions.
If you commit credit card fraud by using an expired, forged, counterfeited, unissued, or revoked credit or debit card, it's a Class 3 felony if more than $300 of property was obtained in 6 months.
If you use a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud, it's a Class A misdemeanor if less than $150 of property was obtained in a 6-month time period. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by:
- Jail time or periodic imprisonment of less than 1 year,
- Probation for up to 2 years,
- A fine of up to $2,500 for each offense committed, restitution, or both.
Even though committing credit card fraud can be an easy crime, that doesn't make the charges any less serious. If you've been charged with a credit card fraud crime, contact an experienced Chicago fraud attorney with a successful track record today.