Did you know that it’s possible to get hit with a credit card fraud charge in Minnesota even if you don’t actually use someone else’s credit card?
That’s because the charge in our state is technically for the fraudulent use of a “financial transaction card.” Like, for example, a food stamp card. In fact, the problem with this type of card fraud gets so much bad publicity that other areas of the country are working to increase penalties.
Case-in-point: Senate Bill 1127 in Pennsylvania will exact heavier penalties for the illegal trade of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. If the bill passes, anyone who trafficks at least $2,500 in SNAP benefits must pay restitution of up to triple the amount of the fraud that was committed. Lawmakers have the stated goal of protecting both taxpayers and citizens who need the SNAP benefits.
What exactly is happening? One example is that businesses are buying the SNAP benefit cards at less than the face value. Then the person who sells the card can spend the money on unlawful items like alcohol or drugs. In this scenario, the businesses also commit fraud by selling the cards at a profit.
That’s just one example, though.
In this post, we’re going to detail the various types of financial transaction cards covered by what is typically thought of as credit card fraud law.
What Does Minnesota Consider a “Financial Transaction Card”?
This is what the law in Minnesota says about the various types of cards covered under this law:
“’Financial transaction card’ means any instrument or device, whether known as a credit card, credit plate, charge plate, courtesy card, bank services card, banking card, check guarantee card, debit card, electronic benefit system (EBS) card, electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, assistance transaction card, or by any other name, issued with or without fee by an issuer for the use of the cardholder in obtaining credit, money, goods, services, public assistance benefits, or anything else of value, and includes the account or identification number or symbol of a financial transaction card.”
Let’s pull out just a few of those to give you a sense of the scope of the law.
Credit card. Obviously, traditional credit cards are covered here. Cards issued by the big four – Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express – but also any other type of credit card.
Bank services card. The card that gives you access to your bank accounts and bank services. If someone tries to use another’s bank card without their permission, this is a fraudulent act.
Debit card. The bank card that you can use to make purchases that will be automatically withdrawn from your account. Essentially a credit card that’s tied to your bank account.
EBT card. An example of an electronic benefit transfer card is a food stamp card that contains SNAP benefits.
What would you have to do with one of these cards to get charged with fraud?
Actions That Fall under Financial Transaction Card Fraud in Minnesota
The following actions are punishable under Minnesota law as credit card fraud:
- Using or attempting to use a card to obtain the property of someone else, without cardholder consent
- Using or attempting to use a card that is false, forged, or fictitious
- Selling or transferring a card without the authorization of the cardholder
- Receiving or possessing with the intent to use, sell, or transfer two or more cards issued to someone else or two or more cards that are false, forged, or fictitious
- Receiving authorization from an issuer to furnish anything of value with intent and knowledge to defraud the issuer or cardholder
- Furnishing anything of value with a card known to be revoked, expired, forged, or presented without authority of use
- Falsely representing in writing that you have furnished anything of value when nothing of value has been furnished
- Upon application for a card, knowingly providing a false name or occupation, overvaluing or undervaluing debts, or making false statements
- Falsely notifying an issuer that the card has been lost or stolen with an intent to defraud
- Falsely signs, alters, or makes a written document about a card transaction with an intent to obtain another’s property
- Trafficking SNAP benefits
If you face charges for any of these actions, you will need the help of a skilled Minnesota defense attorney.
Fighting Minnesota Credit Card Fraud Charges
Our state has stiff penalties for all types of credit card fraud. Depending on the value of the items that were stolen, you could face up to 20 years in prison for a conviction.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain which penalties will apply in your case. Your lawyer will help you form a solid defense against your charges and will work hard to protect your reputation.
Not sure if your actions could constitute fraud? Reach out and ask.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).