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If you see a wallet lying on an unattended table while at a restaurant, what would you do?

Would you try to contact the owner and return it? Would you turn it into a local police station?

Would you use the credit cards you find to go on a shopping spree, knowing that the cardholder won’t be held liable for your fraudulent spending?

While that third option might sound tempting, especially if you could use the extra money, it’s really not the best choice. Aside from being amoral and illegal, it’s not a good investment in your future, either. If you get caught, chances are that you’ll sorely regret taking or using another person’s credit or debit card.

Credit card theft is not to be taken lightly in South Carolina. The penalties for this crime are certainly not light — fines, jail time and a black mark on your criminal record and your reputation that will stick with you for years to come.

If you find yourself facing charges for credit card theft, your next step is to contact a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights.

What does credit card theft look like?

Credit card theft takes many forms, similar to check fraud.

For example, you could receive someone’s credit card statement in the mail by mistake, then use the card number or account number to make purchases with that person’s information.

You could take a credit card that was forgotten at a bar and keep it to use for yourself.

Or you could even commit credit card theft without actually using another person’s credit card to purchase something.

For instance, you might sell a credit card, account number or card number to an interested party — or maybe you’re the buyer of said credit information in this scenario.

In each of the above situations, the main point is that you acquired, used or sold credit card information that did not belong to you for your own personal gain.

Key terms to know

The South Carolina Code of Laws includes a glossary of terms relating to credit card and financial crimes. Two legal terms you need to know to understand credit card theft are financial transactions card and cardholder.

Financial transactions card describes any type of monetary card that is issued to a cardholder, including a:

  • Bank card
  • Banking services card
  • Credit card
  • Debit card

Cardholder describes the person to whom the card was issued and whose name is on the face of the card.

The crime: financial transaction card theft

Although people often use the phrase “credit card theft” to describe the crime, state law actually refers to the criminal act as financial transaction card theft. The legal term is more accurate as financial transaction card includes bank cards and debit cards as well as credit cards.

According to SC law, committing credit card theft includes:

  • Buying a financial transaction card from someone other than the cardholder
  • Intending to use, sell or give a financial transaction card to someone other than the cardholder
  • Receiving a financial transaction card that you know was stolen or delivered by mistake
  • Receiving a financial transactions card knowing it belongs to someone else
  • Selling a financial transaction card to someone other than the cardholder
  • Taking, getting a hold of, or withholding a financial transaction card from another person without their permission and with the intent to use the card

The penalties

Credit card theft is a felony, and the punishments for a conviction are harsh. The judge in your case has the leeway to decide how stiff your fines and jail sentence will be, within the ranges in the table below.

ClassificationFineJail TimeNotes
FelonyFrom $3,000 to $5,000Up to 5 yearsBoth fine and jail time are possible.

Ready to fight your charges?

Facing charges is not an automatic conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney will work with you to build a defense against your criminal charges. Your lawyer can help you get through this with the best outcome given your particular circumstances.

The legal team at Kent Collins Law is ready and waiting to work on your case. Call 803-808-0905 today to schedule a free consultation, or click here to email us  and we’ll get back to you soon.

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