Having credit card information stolen can lead not only to a lengthy dispute process, but also adversely affect a person’s credit rating, dashing hopes of purchasing a home or starting a business. Credit card fraud has been on the rise in recent years due to advances in technology and the number of transactions which are completed online. Because of the grave consequences to victims of credit card fraud and the increase in this type of offence, the Crown takes these charges very seriously. If you have been charged with credit card fraud, an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to successfully argue for a lower offence or sentence or fight the charges outright.
According to the Criminal Code, any person who steals a credit card; forges or falsifies a credit card or; knowingly possesses, uses or traffics in an unauthorized credit card is guilty of an offence. The offence charged will depend on the circumstances, and can include but are not limited to, charges of credit card theft, fraud, or trafficking in credit card data. A person can even be subject to an offence by using his or her own credit card if the person knows that the credit card has been revoked or cancelled. A lawyer can argue that a person has been charged with the wrong offence, which will sometimes lessen the possible punishment or otherwise change the outcome of the case.
Physical possession of a plastic credit card is not a necessary element of credit card fraud. Possessing, using, or trafficking in credit card data or other personal information that can be used to fraudulently obtain credit cards or credit card data is against the law. In some instances, the information possessed or used is the actual credit card number and expiration date. Other times, persons charged with credit card fraud possessed or used personal information necessary to obtain a new credit card such as name and date of birth.
Because credit card fraud is committed just by stealing or possessing a credit card or credit card information, it is not necessary to use the credit card or credit card data for the offence to apply. If the police find an unauthorized credit card on you while doing a search, you can be charged even if the credit card was never used.
The laws of credit card fraud can be further complicated by the fact that some or all of the fraud took place in other provinces or countries. The laws regarding credit card fraud are constantly changing and having a lawyer who keeps up with the latest cases is an essential part of getting the best possible outcome for your particular situation.