Credit card fraud in California may involve cards stolen and used before the owner reports them missing. Holders of an account may divulge information that leads to unauthorized purchases. A data breach may also happen at retailers, agencies, credit bureaus and more.
Credit card fraud happens often, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calls it a form of theft. Fraud and identity theft surged during 2020 and 2021 as claims rose for unemployment and other benefit programs. Other types of fraud, such as wire fraud and mail fraud, were also reported.
Factors that state prosecutors consider
Data reveals that an average of 9.5 million consumers a year experience some type of credit card fraud. It happens often, and punishment may be severe, depending on the type of crime, the amount stolen and the perpetrator’s criminal history. Prosecutors also generally consider whether the accused had criminal intent or if it somehow happened accidentally. Additionally, the penalties could be more severe if the victim were an elderly or disabled person. If someone is convicted of felony credit card theft, the state will then break down the crime based on the state’s laws.
At the federal level
Credit card fraud becomes a federal crime when it affects commerce that is interstate or foreign. The use of a credit card from someone in another state can be prosecuted as a federal crime. Penalties for such crimes may include 20 years in prison.
According to the Department of Justice, federal crimes may take other forms. These include computer fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and financial institution fraud. These types of white-collar crimes may have a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.