Are You Committing Credit Card Fraud?
We’re all stuck inside more, which means most of us are making purchases on credit cards. This means it’s a good idea to make sure you’re doing it legally. Many of us have bad credit card habits that could, under the wrong circumstances, create vulnerability to fraud charges.
Avoid these 5 problematic behaviors to keep yourself out of major trouble.
Mistake #1: Fudging the Form
Credit card applications usually ask for your income. Don’t be tempted to make that number higher than it really is.
It probably won’t come up until the day comes that you can’t make payments. If you file bankruptcy, the creditors will audit that application, which will still be on file.
Figuring out if you told the truth is a simple matter of subpoenaing your employer records, your tax returns, or both. Which means you will be discovered and you can be charged. The debt would also become ineligible for discharge, which means it would hang over your head until it’s paid off.
Mistake #2: Borrowing Cards
Even borrowing a card and using it with the owner’s permission can become extremely problematic.
It’s legal to use the card with permission, but only if you don’t go beyond the scope of the purchases authorized by the owner. Most of the time the question of authorization is your word against the owner’s, and ties go to the owner.
If you signed for the purchase you can also be charged with fraudulently forging the owner’s signature.
It’s better to ask your loved one to make the purchase for you. That way, there’s no mistake later on. You can also ask your loved one to add you as an authorized user if this is something you do often for the sake of convenience.
Mistake #3) Using a Card After the Cardholder Dies
Authorized user privileges go away once the cardholder dies. You must report the death and close out the account when that happens.
Again, the bank usually won’t look into it until the payments stop coming. The minute they do they’ll investigate, and it’s pretty easy for them to pull a death certificate. That’s one of the first things they’ll do, because they’ll see there’s an authorized user on the account, and this is a common form of fraud.
Mistake #4) Providing Fake Credit Cards for Free Trials
The Internet runs on free trials. When auto billing kicks in, cancellation can turn into a major hassle. So it’s no surprise some people keep fake credit card numbers on hand just to apply for free trials.
Yet if you don’t provide a valid credit card you’ve committed theft of service or theft of product. No money changed hand, but the free trial was given out on the condition that you’d offer your credit card and would agree to be charged if you didn’t cancel by a certain date.
There’s also the matter of having a fake credit card in the first place.
Mistake #5) Misusing Credit Card Disputes
The dispute process is meant to give you a way to identify charges you didn’t make. It’s not a way for you to get back at companies when you don’t like their product.
It’s also important to keep good records of what you purchase on a credit card. A charge you don’t recognize isn’t necessarily a charge that’s open to dispute. Often the name on the credit card statement doesn’t match the name of the merchant you did business with. They are, nevertheless, the same entities running a legitimate credit card charge.
If they contest your dispute “I didn’t realize” is a poor defense. It won’t look good in court.
Criminal court may be a mess right now thanks to the Covid-19 process, but police officers are still making arrests.
If you need help defending yourself, call our office to get in touch. We’re doing remote work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Call (845) 741-3331 to get help.
In the meantime, be careful! It’s easier to commit crimes than most people realize.