Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse

Credit cards and debit cards are a convenient way to make purchases, pay bills, and ensure you always has purchasing power on hand. Additionally, technology allows consumers to input their credit and debit card information directly into their smart devices to make purchases. With this convenience comes the potential for fraudulent activity. There are several ways an individual might engage in credit card or debit card abuse in the state of Texas.

Fraudulent Use of Cards

Credit and debit card abuse can occur when a person uses a card that doesn’t belong to them intending to purchase goods or services fraudulently. Credit or debit card fraud also occurs when a person, with intent to obtain a benefit, fraudulently uses a card that has been expired, revoked, or canceled. Credit and debit card abuse does not require the actual, physical card. Using the card number, with or without the physical card in hand, is sufficient. Using a fake credit card or a fraudulently acquired credit card is also a violation of the law.

Other Types of Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse

A person can also be prosecuted for receiving a benefit knowing it was obtained through credit and debit card abuse. Stealing a credit or debit card with the intent to either use it, sell it, or give it to someone else, even if it is never used, is also considered credit or debit card abuse. Buying and selling credit cards and debit cards are also illegal if the seller is not a bona fide card issuer. Even possessing a credit or debit card that belongs to someone else, with the intent to use it, is a crime.

Consequences of Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse

This offense is a state jail felony unless the victim is an elderly individual, in which case it is a felony in the third degree. A state jail felony is punishable by six months to two years in jail, as well as a fine. A felony in the third degree is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.31

The law regarding credit or debit card abuse can be found in the Texas Penal Code Section 32.31

(a)  For purposes of this section:

(1)  “Cardholder” means the person named on the face of a credit card or debit card to whom or for whose benefit the card is issued.

(2)  “Credit card” means an identification card, plate, coupon, book, number, or any other device authorizing a designated person or bearer to obtain property or services on credit.  The term includes the number or description of the device if the device itself is not produced at the time of ordering or obtaining the property or service.

(3)  “Expired credit card” means a credit card bearing an expiration date after that date has passed.

(4)  “Debit card” means an identification card, plate, coupon, book, number, or any other device authorizing a designated person or bearer to communicate a request to an unmanned teller machine or a customer convenience terminal or obtain property or services by debit to an account at a financial institution.  The term includes the number or description of the device if the device itself is not produced at the time of ordering or obtaining the benefit.

(5)  “Expired debit card” means a debit card bearing as its expiration date a date that has passed.

(6)  “Unmanned teller machine” means a machine, other than a telephone, capable of being operated by a customer, by which a customer may communicate to a financial institution a request to withdraw a benefit for himself or for another directly from the customer’s account or from the customer’s account under a line of credit previously authorized by the institution for the customer.

(7)  “Customer convenience terminal” means an unmanned teller machine the use of which does not involve personnel of a financial institution.

(b)  A person commits an offense if:

(1)  with intent to obtain a benefit fraudulently, he presents or uses a credit card or debit card with knowledge that:

(A)  the card, whether or not expired, has not been issued to him and is not used with the effective consent of the cardholder; or

(B)  the card has expired or has been revoked or cancelled;

(2)  with intent to obtain a benefit, he uses a fictitious credit card or debit card or the pretended number or description of a fictitious card;

(3)  he receives a benefit that he knows has been obtained in violation of this section;

(4)  he steals a credit card or debit card or, with knowledge that it has been stolen, receives a credit card or debit card with intent to use it, to sell it, or to transfer it to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder;

(5)  he buys a credit card or debit card from a person who he knows is not the issuer;

(6)  not being the issuer, he sells a credit card or debit card;

(7)  he uses or induces the cardholder to use the cardholder’s credit card or debit card to obtain property or service for the actor’s benefit for which the cardholder is financially unable to pay;

(8)  not being the cardholder, and without the effective consent of the cardholder, he possesses a credit card or debit card with intent to use it;

(9)  he possesses two or more incomplete credit cards or debit cards that have not been issued to him with intent to complete them without the effective consent of the issuer.  For purposes of this subdivision, a card is incomplete if part of the matter that an issuer requires to appear on the card before it can be used, other than the signature of the cardholder, has not yet been stamped, embossed, imprinted, or written on it;

(10)  being authorized by an issuer to furnish goods or services on presentation of a credit card or debit card, he, with intent to defraud the issuer or the cardholder, furnishes goods or services on presentation of a credit card or debit card obtained or retained in violation of this section or a credit card or debit card that is forged, expired, or revoked; or

(11)  being authorized by an issuer to furnish goods or services on presentation of a credit card or debit card, he, with intent to defraud the issuer or a cardholder, fails to furnish goods or services that he represents in writing to the issuer that he has furnished.

(c)  It is presumed that a person who used a revoked, cancelled, or expired credit card or debit card had knowledge that the card had been revoked, cancelled, or expired if he had received notice of revocation, cancellation, or expiration from the issuer.  For purposes of this section, notice may be either notice given orally in person or by telephone, or in writing by mail or by telegram.  If written notice was sent by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested, or by telegram with report of delivery requested, addressed to the cardholder at the last address shown by the records of the issuer, it is presumed that the notice was received by the cardholder no later than five days after sent.

(d)  An offense under this section is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed against an elderly individual as defined by Section 22.04.

Contact Us

If you are facing charges of credit card or debit card abuse, call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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