Free Consultation | Se habla español


when you need it most

Photo of Herbert J. Weston and Tanya L. Weston

Some information on credit card fraud

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | White Collar Crimes

The FTC stats show over 390,000 incidents of reported credit card fraud in 2020. Credit card fraud in Vista, California, is a white-collar crime, or a commonly nonviolent financial crime. A person can face serious penalties if charged with credit card fraud.

Overview of credit card fraud

Credit card fraud occurs when an offender illegally uses a person’s credit or debit card to benefit themselves. The main two types of credit card fraud are card-present, which has gotten less common, and card-not-present, which is less common.

Card-not-present usually occurs with a phone scam or a phishing email that attempts to collect personal data. They may search garbage cans for discarded credit card bills to install skimmers at ATMs. Account take over is when the scammer pretends to the cardholder and changes data to control the account.

Card-present fraud occurs when the scammer steals or counterfeits a debit or credit card or and makes onsite transactions. For example, they attempt a purchase at a physical store, but cashiers may be alerted by certain behaviors.


Purchases under $950 commonly count as a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months of jail plus fines. Fraudulent transactions over $950 and possession of stolen cards are commonly wobblers, which means they can be felonies or misdemeanors. The penalty for transactions over $950 is usually the same as for grand theft, carrying up to a three-year jail term.

A felony possession charge commonly includes up to a three-year jail term and up to a $10,000 fine. A misdemeanor possession charge commonly includes up to one year in jail term and a fine of up to $1,000.

While charges can be stressful, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the accused party can fight charges with a strong defense.