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California Credit Card, Debit Card & Access Card Fraud

what are credit and debit cards

Penal Code 484e 484f 484g 484h 484i 484j PC

California's credit / debit / access card fraud laws prohibit any type of fraudulent activity that takes place involving

    1. credit debit or access cards. also referred to as "access" cards, or
    2. the information contained in or related to a credit / debit card account.

You have "fraudulent" intent if you intend to deceive another person or entity to the point where that person or entity suffers a loss, and you benefit from an undeserved gain.

There are a number of these laws that deal with specific types of credit card fraud violations, each of which carries its own punishment.


Common examples of California credit or debit card fraud include (but are not limited to):

  • using someone else's credit or debit card without that person's consent,
  • using your own credit or debit card knowing that it has been revoked or expired or that your available balance is less than the purchase price, and
  • using a stolen or fraudulent

    credit or debit card to receive money, goods or services.


Some common legal defenses to California credit card fraud include:

  • you didn't intend to commit a fraud,
  • there is insufficient evidence to convict you of the offense, and/or
  • you are the victim of mistaken identity.

Again, the penalties for California credit card fraud vary depending on the specific circumstances of the offense. That said, most instances of credit/debit card fraud are punishable as

  • forgery (which, as a felony subjects you to 16 months or two or three years in county jail and a maximum $10,000 fine, or as a misdemeanor to up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine),
  • grand theft (punishable in the same manner as forgery), or
  • petty theft (a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six-months in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine).

In this article, our California criminal defense attorneys 1 provide a comprehensive guide to understanding California's credit card fraud laws by addressing the following:

Category: Bank

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