Pennsylvania Credit Card Fraud Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Credit Card Fraud Laws

In Pennsylvania, committing any type of fraudulent activity in connection with the use of a credit card (sometimes known as an "access device") is against the law. A person can be convicted of credit card fraud if they use a credit card or try to use it knowing that:

  • the credit card is counterfeit, altered or incomplete;
  • the credit card has not been authorized to be used by this person;
  • the credit card has been revoked or canceled;

If the defendant makes any attempt whatsoever to get a third person to use a credit card under any of the above circumstances, he can be charged with credit card fraud. In addition, the defendant does not have to actually try to use the fraudulent or unauthorized credit card. Merely possessing it and knowing it is counterfeit or has not been authorized for use constitutes credit card fraud.

NOTE: The defendant will be presumed to have known that the card is counterfeit and/or not authorized for use if he/she has two or more such credit cards in his/her possession.

Penalties and Sentences

The penalty and sentence involved for a charge of credit card fraud depends on the value of the goods or services that were obtained (or attempted to be obtained) by means of the credit card. If the value was less than $50, the charge will be a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison. If the value was $50 or more but less than $500, the offense constitutes a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison. If the value was $500 or more, the offense constitutes a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Each credit card involved in the offense will be considered a separate charge under Pennsylvania law. For example, if on one day, Bob used three different credit cards and made fraudulent purchases with them, Bob will have committed three separate offenses.

The following chart highlights the details of Pennsylvania's credit card fraud statute.

Code Section

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. sections 4601

Defenses

Defenses to Credit Card Fraud Charges
  • The defendant had every intent to meet the obligations of the card to the credit issuer;
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of intent
  • The card did belong to the defendant
  • Age

Penalties

See above

Possible Felony?

Yes, depending on the value of the theft or loss.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Criminal Laws Related Resources:

Free Case Review

Credit card fraud can happen in a variety of ways, whether by physically using someone else's credit card without their permission or even using their credit card number online to buy an item. If you've been arrested and charged with credit card fraud, get your case reviewed for free by a criminal defense lawyer today at no obligation to you.

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