Access Device Fraud


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Misusing a credit card may be a one-time mistake that you deeply regret afterward. But if you take someone else’s access device, usually a debit or credit card, and use it to make purchases without them knowing about it, Pennsylvania law will punish you severely for your error.

Whatever motivated the fraud, those who are charged face frightening repercussions that include prison, fines and a criminal record. If you are arrested, you will need a strong and aggressive defense.

What You Need To Know About Access Device Fraud

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to use an access device to obtain, or try to obtain, another person’s money, property or services without their permission. Access devices include:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • ATM cards
  • A card with an account number printed on it

Access device fraud covers the following situations:

  • Using an access device issued to another person
  • Using a counterfeit, altered or incomplete access device
  • Using a canceled or revoked access device

For example, if you use a friend’s credit card without their permission to buy yourself a new TV or go out to dinner in a restaurant, you could face access device fraud charges.

Access device fraud also covers publishing, making, selling, giving or advertising an access device while knowing it is counterfeit, altered, issued to someone else or otherwise not authorized for the user you are presenting it to.

Access Device Fraud Can Be A Felony Or Misdemeanor

The grading of an access device fraud charge is largely based on the value of what was taken.

If the stolen item is valued at:

  • More than $500, it is a felony of the third degree.
  • More than $50 but less than $500, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • Less than $50, the theft is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

What To Do If You Are Charged

If you are charged with access device fraud, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily. You will probably be held in jail overnight. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.

  • As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
  • If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.

What Your Lawyer Can Do

Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.

  • Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
  • Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
  • You may have acted without criminal intent. If so, your lawyer will gather the evidence or witnesses to prove it.

Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.

How A Lawyer Will Help

When you are up against an access device fraud charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.

Pennsylvania Access Device Fraud Law

Access device fraud is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 41. Read the code here.

Questions? Contact us today.

Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.