Tennessee Credit and Debit Card Fraud

The use of credit or debit cards for everyday purchases has increased significantly in recent years. However, as the use of these cards has become more prevelant, so has credit card fraud. When a person isn't authorized to use a credit or debit card, but then uses it anyway, it's credit card fraud. Tennessee has addressed this issue by enacting a credit card fraud law that continues to be updated as times change.

The table below details the Tennessee credit and debit card fraud law.

Code Section

Tennessee Code Section 39-14-118: Illegal Possession or Fraudulent Use of a Credit or Debit Card

What is Prohibited?

Tennessee prohibits both having and using a credit or debit card that you aren't authorized to use. Specifically, the acts that are illegal are:

  • Knowingly possessing a credit or debit card without the consent of the owner
  • Using or allowing another to use a credit or debit card, with fraudulent intent, to buy anything of value (including property, services, or credit) knowing that it's forged, stolen, revoked, cancelled, or expired

Penalty

The fraudulent use of a debit or credit card is punished based on the amount of property, goods, or services obtained through the crime. This ties to the general theft levels of penalty under Tennessee Code Section 39-14-105.

If the value of the property or services obtained through credit card fraud is $500 or less, it's a Class A misdemeanor. If nothing is actually obtained or received, then the possession or use of the card is still a Class A misdemeanor. If the value of items obtained is $500 to $1,000, it's a Class E felony. If the value is $1,000 to $10,000, it's a Class D felony. If what was received via credit card fraud was worth $10,000 to $60,000, it's a Class C felony. For $60,000 or more in fraudulently taken goods, it's a Class B felony.

The various classes of misdemeanors and felonies for credit card fraud in Tennessee can be penalized by:

  • Class B Felony - 8-30 years in prison and a fine not more than $25,000
  • Class C Felony - 3-15 years in prison and a fine not more than $10,000
  • Class D Felony - 2-12 years in prison and a fine not more than $5,000
  • Class E Felony - 1-6 years in prison and a fine not more than $3,000
  • Class A Misdemeanor - Less than 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine not more than $2,500

Defenses

Some of the possible defenses for fraudulent use of a credit or debit card in Tennessee are:

  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Infancy (for young children)
  • Insanity
  • Lack of intent (didn't intend to defraud anyone)

It may be possible to give back what was stolen with the card in an attempt to obtain a better plea bargain or more lenient sentence. This is known as restitution.

Note: State and federal laws change frequently -- it's important to verify what you're researching.

Research the Law

Indiana Credit and Debit Card Fraud Laws: Related Resources

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