Wisconsin Credit and Debit Card Fraud

With many people using credit cards and debit cards on a daily basis, the fraudulent use of these cards has increased dramatically in recent years. Wisconsin law covers many possible aspects of credit or debit card fraud in an attempt to prohibit any way thieves may try to defraud both cardholders and issuers of credit cards of their money.

The main provisions of Wisconsin's credit and debit card fraud law are outlined below.

Code Section

Wisconsin Statutes Section 943.41 - Financial Transaction Card Crimes

What is Prohibited?

Wisconsin prohibits the following types of credit and debit card fraud:

  • False Statements
    • Making false statements in writing about your own or another’s identity or financial condition to be issued a card
  • Theft by Taking Card
    • Getting a credit or debit card from another person without his or her consent to have it
    • Receiving a card knowing that it was stolen or receive with the intent to sell it
    • Receiving a card that’s lost or misdelivered and retaining it to sell, give to another, or use
    • Selling a debit or credit card (if not a card issuer)
    • Buying a card from a person other than the issuer of the card
    • Obtaining a card as security for a debt with the intent to defraud the issuer or provider of goods or services
    • Retaining cards that you know were taken in violation of this law
  • Forgery of Credit or Debit Card
    • Altering or counterfeiting cards to defraud anyone
    • Possessing a card knowing it was altered or counterfeited
  • Fraudulent Use
    • Using a card knowing it was forged, expired, or revoked
    • Obtaining anything of value either by using another's card without consent or claiming to have a card that hasn't been issued
    • Using your own card or allowing others to use it with the intend to defraud anyone
    • Depositing a stolen or forged card into an ATM or any machine activated by the card or PIN number, knowing it’s stolen or forged
    • Defrauding anyone using an electronic funds transfer system
    • Intercepting information at any financial services machine with the intent to defraud
    • Knowingly receiving something of value from another's fraudulent use of an ATM
    • Providing money, goods, or services (as retailer authorized to accept cards) knowing the card presented is stolen, forged, expired, or revoked
    • Accepting a card and failing to provide the money, goods, or services, yet claiming to the issuer the items were provided
    • Possessing an "incomplete" card (i.e. the card needs a stamp or imprint to be used) with the intent to complete it without the issuer’s consent
    • Receiving anything of value knowing or believing it was obtained through credit or debit card fraud

Penalties

The penalties for most forms of credit card fraud in Wisconsin are:

  • Class A misdemeanor - False statements, theft by taking card, possessing a counterfeit card, or fraudulent use where the value of the goods, services, money, or property illegally obtained in one transaction or separate transactions over a 6-month period is under $2,500. This misdemeanor can be punished by up to 9 months in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Class I Felony - Counterfeiting credit cards or fraudulent use if the amount stolen in 6 months was between $2,500 and $5,000, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Class H Felony - Fraudulent use if the stolen items value between $5,000 and $10,000 at once or in a 6-month period, penalized by up to 6 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Class G Felony - Fraudulent use if the total stolen is worth over $10,000 at one time or over 6 months, with sentences of at most 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $25,000, or both.

You may also have to pay restitution (pay back or return the goods) to those harmed by your credit card fraud.

Evidence

If you've been charged with credit card fraud, note that several factors can affect the evidence that may be presented or required in your case at trial, including:

  • Actual possession of the card isn’t required for conviction of some types of fraud
  • Having cards issued in the name of two or more other people is prima facie evidence (or enough to establish a fact unless disproved by the defendant) that the person broke this law
  • Keeping a card that doesn't belong, but is accidentally received by you for seven days is evidence that must be disproved that the person intended to sell, transfer or use it
  • Having two or more cards that have been altered is prima facie evidence the person intended to defraud or knew they were altered
  • Possessing a card belonging to another, but signed by you is enough evidence of intent to defraud, unless disproved
  • Knowledge that a card has been revoked is presumed four days after it's been sent by registered or certified mail

Defenses

This law specifically says two defenses to credit card fraud aren't valid:

  1. Another person wasn't convicted, arrested, or identified
  2. Some of the acts didn't occur in Wisconsin or weren't crimes where they did occur

However, other defenses may be available, such as duress, entrapment, insanity, or infancy (for children under 10 years old as too young for juvenile court in Wisconsin).

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

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