Did You Just Commit Credit Card Fraud?

Did You Just Commit Credit Card Fraud?

It’s more likely than you think.

The vast majority of credit card fraud cases involve the big players: people who are purposefully committing identity theft or who are using stolen or counterfeit card data to make purchases. But that doesn’t mean unintentional credit card fraud doesn’t happen.

And when it does, perfectly normal people who would never consciously commit any crime risk finding themselves facing criminal charges for activities that really didn’t seem like any big deal. If you’ve indulged in any of the following activities you could be at risk.

See also: Common Examples of Healthcare Fraud.

Did you tell a little white lie?

A lot of people “fudge” things on their credit card application. The most common is to overstate your income.

Lying to obtain a financial benefit is a fraud crime, even if the lie is small. It may take some time for the lie to be discovered, but if it is, you could face criminal charges, and you could end up with jail time. Lots of it, if you lied on more than one application.

And if you end up declaring bankruptcy later, the application may come under scrutiny. If it’s clear you lied on your credit card application the judge can refuse to discharge that debt, which means you will still have to pay every cent you owe. The credit card company will be free to continue all collection actions against you as well.

See also: What to Do If Accused of Bankruptcy Fraud in New York City.

Do you have permission to use someone else’s card?

This seems harmless enough, right? You have permission, so it should be fine. And often, it is.

Unless you use the card to authorize charges the owner never authorized. And you’re leaving yourself wide open to these kinds of accusations every time you go out with the borrowed card.

The most common scenario is the girlfriend or boyfriend who borrows the significant other’s card, with permission. He or she charges several items on the card. Later, the two break up, and the significant other is already angry. So he or she claims you did not have permission to charge any or all of these items.

Usually the amounts would have to be in excess of $25,000 before the police are really going to want to get involved. They’re pretty familiar with this scenario too. But it may not be worth the risk. If your significant other is going to help you out with a purchase it may be best to ask him or her to come along so they can use their own card.

See also: Falsely Accused? Know Your Options.

Are you an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account?

There is nothing wrong with being an authorized user, of course: that is perfectly legal.

But you must know the difference between an authorized user, and a card holder. The authorized user is just that: someone authorized to make charges on the card. The card holder is the one who supplied the credit card company with the information they used to issue the card. The card holder is also the one ultimately responsible for the bill.

The trouble arises when the card holder dies. Often, for convenience, an authorized user will innocently keep using the card without giving it much thought. This happens most often when the authorized user was the spouse of the card holder. In this case, the authorized user usually ends up continuing to pay the bill.

The trouble starts the moment the authorized user can’t pay the bill anymore. This is usually the point where the issuing bank discovers what’s been going on. They may or may not decide to press charges, but if they do you’ll want to retain a lawyer right away. Unlike using someone else’s cards with permission, law enforcement and courts take this one very seriously regardless of the amounts charged.

Does your record keeping and memory leave something to be desired?

This may not be a problem if you tend to believe every charge on your card belongs to you without making an issue of any of them.

If you’re the type of person who does check your credit card statement for unauthorized transactions you could make a big mistake though: disputing, in  good faith, charges you did make because you don’t recognize the name of the merchant on the credit card statement, or because you don’t remember making the charge.

You should know the name on the card statement is not always the name of the merchant. And you should know it is not legal to dispute charges just because you don’t like the product.

The problem here is it can be difficult to prove you didn’t realize you were committing chargeback fraud. Whether this is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the amount of money and property you are accused of stealing through chargeback fraud, but either way it’s serious.

Do you think signing the slip is just a formality?

If you borrow credit cards you probably sign the slip for the cardholder too. There are also other times when people tend to sign slips for friends or family members. Nine times out of ten this isn’t a problem.

The tenth time is the time the charge is disputed. This will prompt the credit card company to compare the receipt signature with all the other signatures you’ve returned. When there isn’t a match, they’ll know something is wrong, and you’ll be held responsible.

You never know which of your friends might accidentally dispute a charge. You also wouldn’t know it if most of your friends are committing willful chargeback fraud. Again, it’s best to let everyone you know hold on to their own cards and sign on to their own receipts, even if seeming to do it the other way gets inconvenient.  

See also: Is Sharing Your Netflix Password Really a Federal Offense?

Do you think you’ve found a great way to get around having to charge automatic credit card charges on those free trial offers?

Trial offers are a risk for consumers. On one hand you might end up getting thirty days of whatever free. On the other, every consumer now knows “call and cancel any time and we won’t bill your card” isn’t always as quick, easy, and straightforward as it looks on the surface.

“Whoops, we missed your cancellation request,” is pretty common. So is, “Whoops, you waited too long to cancel so now we have to take the money this month because of billing cycles.” It’s annoying and upsetting. But free trials are also a vital part of internet commerce: there are plenty of products you’d just take a hard pass on without them. Try-before-you buy often makes the sale.

Some consumers try to get around the problem by using a fake credit card number when they sign up for a free trial. They reason they can always update their account with the real credit card number later. Then they forget to cancel the service in time the way most people do when they sign up with their real cards. The duplicity is discovered and criminal charges could be on the horizon, as this is another case of lying to gain a financial benefit.

If you’ve been accused of credit card fraud, you need a strong defense.

And you need one even if the fraudulent activity was completely accidental. If you’re in trouble, don’t leave this situation up to chance. Call for your free consultation today so you can decide if the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman is the right firm for you.