Can Your Identity Be Stolen from a Credit Card?
An identity thief doesn’t need a party’s credit card number to steal their identity, just like they do not need the physical credit card to steal that card and use it. All it takes is one piece of information to steal someone’s identity and gain access to further information necessary to proceed with the theft. Therefore, yes, a person can use a credit card to steal someone’s identity, but they can also do so in other ways, too.
If you have been arrested for suspicion of identity theft or credit card fraud in New Mexico, now is the time to hire an attorney. While considered a “white-collar” crime, identity theft and credit card theft are treated seriously in the state and you could face dire consequences without proper representation.
The Consequences of Committing Credit Card and Debit Card Theft in New Mexico
When someone steals a credit card from another party and they use it, they have just committed identity theft and credit card theft.
Credit card theft is classified as a type of identity theft, and it has a broad definition of what can be considered “credit card theft” under the law. In New Mexico, credit cards are instruments used by a cardholder for obtaining services, money, goods, and anything of value. When another party uses that card without permission or with the intent of obtaining those things illegally, they have committed credit card theft.
Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card – What Is the Potential Punishment?
The fraudulent use of a credit card (i.e., using another party’s credit card without permission or consent), can range from a petty misdemeanor to a second-degree felony.
If you use a stolen credit card to purchase or obtain anything of value, and you did so with the intent of defrauding its owner, you could be charged with the fraudulent use of a credit card.
Like other theft crimes in New Mexico, credit card theft charges are based on the value of the merchandise. Only, in this case, the state considers the total value over six months. Therefore, they will total all illegally obtained purchases for six months with the stolen credit card, and that total determines what charges a defendant faces.
The following are examples of potential charges based on total value:
- Value of $250 or Less: Petty misdemeanor
- Value of $250 to $500: Misdemeanor
- Value of $500 to $2,500: Fourth-degree felony
- Value of $2,500 to $20,000: Third-degree felony
- Value of $20,000 or More: Second-degree felony
Often, it is easy to overspend on a stolen credit card or multiple stolen credit cards. A person can easily spend over $500, which means the chances of a felony conviction are more likely.
What If You Steal a Credit Card, but Do Not Use the Credit Card?
Even if you do not use the card, stealing it is a crime. Under New Mexico law, it is illegal to take a credit card and control it or possess it without the cardholder’s consent. Doing so, even if you do not use that card, can result in a fourth-degree felony.
Do Not Forget the Consequences of Forgery While Using a Stolen Credit Card
Stealing a credit card and using it online is not the same as taking a credit card and then signing for the transaction in person. By signing in the cardholder’s name, a defendant has just committed the act of fraudulently signing, which makes them guilty of a fourth-degree felony in addition to the initial credit card theft charges.
The Consequences of Committing Identity Theft in New Mexico
Identity theft laws are harsh. And when one person takes the identifying information of another, without consent or authorization, and uses that information to defraud or for another illegal purpose, they can be charged with identity theft. Identity theft, unlike credit card theft, is always charged as a felony under New Mexico Statute Section 30-16-24.1.
It is a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable with up to 18 months imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000. However, these fines only apply to court fees. In addition to that $15,000 court fine, a defendant must pay restitution to the victim out-of-pocket and pay for attorney’s fees. The thief must also pay any costs to clear the victim’s credit rating, satisfy debts or liens, and pay the victim’s attorney’s fees for any legal costs associated with recovering from the theft.
The more victims identified, the harsher the penalty, and a person can be charged with multiple counts of identity theft.
Identity Theft and Credit Card Theft Charges Are Very Serious
Regardless of whether you are charged with identity theft or credit card theft, these charges are not something you should ignore – nor can you afford to ignore.
Not only are you risking a felony conviction (and possibly more than one), but you are also facing considerably high fines, restitution, and a lifetime of repayment for your crime. Even if you serve a short jail sentence or prison sentence, you will have the long-term consequence of a criminal record, which can affect your ability to get housing, a new job, or even receive benefits from government programs.
If you have been arrested and charged with credit card fraud or identity theft, contact the team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. Our attorneys take these charges seriously, and we will fight hard to protect you from a lifetime of consequences.
To get started, speak with an attorney regarding your case and discover potential options for outcomes by scheduling your case evaluation. Call 505-200-2982 or request more information about our defense services online.