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Are Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft the Same Thing?

Credit card fraud and identity theft aren’t the same offenses. Identity theft is when a person’s identity is stolen, whereas credit card fraud is when someone’s financial device, such as a credit or debit card, is used without their permission. Although many instances of credit card fraud are also considered identity theft, the latter is more involved and does not always include the former.

What Is Credit Card Fraud?

Generally defined, credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of another person’s credit card or credit card number to make a monetary transaction. The card could be used to fraudulently purchase goods and services and/or to withdraw cash from an ATM or merchant.

Colorado Laws Concerning Credit Card Fraud

C.R.S. §18-5-903 Criminal Possession of a Financial Device

A person commits this offense when they know, or should have known, that they have a card that was lost, stolen, or delivered to the wrong address.

Depending on the number of cards a person has in their possession, violations of this law could be charged as follows:

  • Class 1 misdemeanor: having 1 financial device
  • Class 6 felony: having 2 or more financial devices
  • Class 5 felony: having 4 or more financial devices, 2 of which are issued in different names

C.R.S. §18-5-702 Unauthorized Use of a Financial Device

This law prohibits using a credit or debit card without the cardholder’s permission. It is also illegal for a person to use an expired or canceled card.

Violations of this law can be charged as a petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony depending on the amount of the transaction:

  • Class 1 petty offense: transaction value less than $50
  • Class 3 misdemeanor: transaction value between $50 and $299
  • Class 2 misdemeanor: transaction value between $300 and $749
  • Class 1 misdemeanor: transaction value between $750 and $1,999
  • Class 6 felony: transaction value between $2,000 and $4,999
  • Class 5 felony: transaction value between $5,000 and $19,999
  • Class 4 felony: transaction value between $20,000 and $99,999
  • Class 3 felony: transaction value between $100,000 and $999,999
  • Class 2 felony: transaction value greater than $1,000,000

C.R.S. §18-5-207 Purchase on Credit to Defraud

Under this law, it is illegal to use a credit card to purchase goods with the intent to commit fraud by selling or disposing of the item before actually paying for it. This offense is charged as a class 2 misdemeanor.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when an individual uses someone else’s personal information for their own benefit.

Colorado Laws Concerning Identity Theft

Section 18-5-902 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines identity theft as knowingly using another individual’s personal information, financial information, or financial device without their consent to obtain an item of value. Under this law, it is also illegal to use someone else’s identifying information to apply for a credit card or other type of loan.

Violations of this statute are charged as a class 4 felony.

Contact Gerash Steiner, P.C. for Legal Counsel

If you were charged with identity theft or credit card fraud, our attorneys at Gerash Steiner, P.C. are ready to provide the legal help you need. We have extensive experience and know how to navigate the criminal trial process for these types of white collar crimes.

Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (303) 732-5048 or contacting us online.