Credit card fraud, which is a crime that involves the unauthorized use of a credit card, is usually a state crime, but it can be a federal crime. Because there are many different kinds of credit card fraud, several federal statutes may apply.
When is credit card fraud a federal crime?
Fraud involving access devices
Federal law makes it a crime to use, produce or traffic in counterfeit or unauthorized access devices. Because credit cards are a type of access device, credit card fraud may result in federal charges. There are several types of crimes that may result in federal access device fraud charges:
- Using or selling counterfeit credit cards
- Using, possessing or selling a credit card scanner
- Purchasing anything valued at $1,000 or more with a counterfeit credit card
- Possessing 15 or more counterfeit credit cards
Additionally, stealing someone’s identity to use or obtain a credit card can result in federal charges. Most of these charges require someone to make a purchase with a fake credit card. However, if you possess 15 or more fake credit cards, the government may charge you even if none of the cards were ever used.
Penalties for federal credit card fraud
The penalties for federal credit card fraud are 10 to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The court may also order you to pay restitution and forfeit anything you bought or money you obtained fraudulently.
Federal credit card fraud convictions can result in severe penalties. This makes it important to be aware of the potential consequences of illegally using credit cards.