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Credit Card Fraud

Definition of Credit Card Fraud ( Noun )

1. The unauthorized use of an individual's credit card or card information to make purchases, or to remove funds from the cardholder's account.


1887 The concept of the "credit card" was first discussed in Edward Bellamy's utopian novel, "Looking Backward." Many believe modern day credit card fraud to be the natural progression of theft from check fraud.

What is Credit Card Fraud

The crime of credit card fraud begins when someone either steals a credit or debit card, or fraudulently obtains the card number and other account information necessary for the card to be used successfully. While the actual physical theft of credit cards does happen, modern technology has seen a steep rise in the incidence of intercepting account information electronically. The owner of the account, the merchant from whom card information was stolen or intercepted, and even the card issuer may be unaware of the compromise until the information is actually used to make purchases.

As online shopping and bill paying has skyrocketed in popularity, there is no longer a need to possess a physical credit card or debit card to make purchases, and it is possible even to open a financial account, and obtain credit cards solely through online transactions. Because of this, criminals are able to obtain enough personal information about other individuals and may use that information to commit credit card fraud by opening new accounts, or having new cards sent to them on existing accounts.

Elements of Credit Card Fraud

The term credit card fraud is broadly used to refer to the use of a credit card, debit card, or any similar form of credit, to make purchases, or to obtain financial gain with the intention of avoiding payment. This includes identity theft, identity assumption, and fraud sprees. In the eyes of the law, certain elements are required for a financial or identity theft crime to be classified as a form of credit card fraud. These include: This includes:

# Credit Card Theft: the taking of a credit card, or credit card number, from another person, without the cardholder's consent, with the intent of using or selling it.

# Credit Card Forgery: the purchasing of something of value using a credit card, by someone other than the cardholder, or an authorized user, with the intent of defrauding the card's issuer.

# Credit Card Fraud: the taking of a credit card, or credit card number, from another person, with the intent to use, sell, or transfer it to another person, or using the credit card or card number to purchase something of value, with the intent to defraud.

Credit Card Fraud Investigation

Credit card fraud investigation most often begins when a consumer makes a report to local police of the theft or unauthorized use of his credit or debit card. Reporting the crime, or the suspicion that an individual's account has been compromised, may require the cardholder to sign a sworn statement detailing the disputed transactions, and declaring under penalty of perjury that he did not make the charges he is disputing. Immediately reporting suspected credit card fraud is highly recommended by the banking and credit agencies, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, and law enforcement agencies. Review of Disputed Transactions

During its credit card investigation, the card issuer will then review all of the disputed transactions, looking closely at when and where they were made, and whether any of them required a signature. If so, the signature will be compared to the cardholder's signature on file. Signatures that do not match make quick work of proving a transaction is fraudulent.

Professional Credit Card Fraud Investigators

Professional investigators of credit card fraud are trained in "electronic backtracking" of electronic and online transactions. These experts in information technology, financial security systems, and forensic accounting use high-tech methods to determine whether stolen card information has been used, either to make purchases, or to open new accounts. Such fraud investigators can often stop the opening and using of secondary accounts, minimizing the damage to the cardholder and card issuer.

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