A recent report from Experian suggests that fraud associated with e-commerce or online shopping is expected to rise by roughly 13% annually through 2022. Many fraudulent acts involve credit cards, as more than 32% of U.S. consumers were victims of credit card fraud in 2016. Fortunately, most cards now contain embedded chip technology that has shown to be effective in improving security and preventing this type of fraud. The Financial Crimes Investigation Unit is a leading agency within the New Jersey State Police that is actively investigating these types of criminal activity.
Credit Card Theft Offenses and Penalties in New Jersey
Credit card theft is an offense outlined in the New Jersey statute (2C:21-6) which is categorized under Forgery and Related Offenses. There are various ways that a credit card may potentially be used illegally and the penalties imposed are either a third or fourth-degree criminal offense. Third-degree offenses are punishable by imprisonment for between three to five years and a maximum $15,000 fine. Offenses of the fourth-degree are punishable by up to 18 months of incarceration and $10,000 maximum fine.
Primary Ways Credit Card Theft Offenses are Committed
- Applying to open a new credit card account using someone else's identity. This requires the perpetrator to obtain the victim's personal information such as social security number, date of birth, etc.
- Somehow gaining possession of a lost, stolen, or misplaced credit card and intending to use it unlawfully
- Any unlawful transactions such as buying, selling, giving, or receiving a credit card
- Creating new counterfeit credit cards using equipment or altering or modifying an existing card. This often involves embossing the information of an existing cardholder.
- “Skimming” the credit card information occurs by using a scanning or re-encoding device. These devices are capable of electronically capturing and retaining embedded account and cardholder information by scanning the card's bar or strip.
- Possessing any devices or equipment that are used for “skimming” or similar unlawful purposes
- A merchant may be charged with theft if they knowingly accept a stolen, forged, altered, or otherwise unlawfully obtained card for payment
Having a Criminal Record for Theft or Fraud
A conviction for credit card theft or similar offenses often creates challenges that extend beyond any period of incarceration. Employers, professional licensing agencies, or property owners and managers that are leasing housing units commonly conduct background checks.
Criminal Courts in Mercer County
Mercer County is home to 13 Municipal Courts operated at the city or township level. The Municipal Courts in New Jersey have limited jurisdiction, handling only disorderly person offenses, motor vehicle and parking violations, and local ordinance offenses. The more serious criminal cases at transferred to the Superior Court at the county level.
Mercer County Criminal Courthouse
400 South Warren St.
Trenton, NJ 08608
New Jersey Credit Card Offense Attorney
Are you facing serious allegations of fraud or theft? Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years providing effective defense representation for clients in these criminal matters. He independently reviews the unique facts and circumstances of the case and creates a comprehensive strategy of defense. Contact the office today for a case evaluation at (888) 535-3686.