The crime of Illegal or unauthorized use of someone’s credit card in Pennsylvania is known as Access Device Fraud.
Access Device Fraud is when a person uses a credit card or debit card to obtain property or services knowing that: 1) the card is a counterfeit or has been altered; 2) the card has been issued to another person who has not authorized its use; 3) the card has been revoked or cancelled; 4) for any other reason that the use of the card has been unauthorized by the issuer or actual card holder.
Credit card fraud or Access Device Fraud is almost always charged under the 2nd example above when a person, without permission, makes purchases with another’s credit card. The felony charge of forgery will often be charged along with credit card fraud/Access Device Fraud. The forgery is when the purchaser signs the name of the cardholder.
If the value of the property obtained with the card is $500.00 or greater, the charge is graded as a Felony 3. If the value is between $50.00 and $500.00, the crime is graded as a Misdemeanor 1. If the value of the property obtained is less than $50.00, the offense is graded as a Misdemeanor 2.
Oftentimes, the person accused of illegally using the credit card is caught on a store’s video surveillance. There is often a strong “paper trail” of the illegal use of the credit card. The amount of the purchase, the location, and the date and time of the purchase are easily found.
A person convicted of this charge will always be responsible for paying either the credit card company or the card holder back for the amount of the unauthorized purchase.
It is a DEFENSE to Access Device Fraud if the owner of the credit card gave permission to the person to use the card. It’s the Commonwealth’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the cardholder did not authorize or give permission to the person to use the card.
The person charged with Access Device Fraud may be eligible for the ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) program if he/she has no prior criminal record. Eligibility for ARD for Access Device Fraud will vary from county to county. ARD is a probation program that lasts anywhere from 6 to 24 months. It sometimes requires community service. A person on ARD cannot be incarcerated. Successful completion of the ARD program will result in the dismissal if the charge and the expungement of the criminal record.
If you’ve been charged with credit card fraud/Access Device Fraud or are being investigated for these charges, call or contact us and we’ll be happy to review your case.