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Maryland Credit and Debit Card Fraud

Credit and debit card fraud is common now with most consumers using cards on a daily basis. Maryland takes credit card and debit card fraud seriously and devotes an entire subchapter in the Fraud Related Crimes portion of the state’s criminal laws to credit card crimes. The following table outlines these laws.

Code Sections

Maryland Criminal Law § 8-201, et seq.

What is Prohibited?

Credit card fraud crimes in Maryland include:

  • Fraud in Procuring the Issuance of a Credit Card – making false statements in writing about you or another’s identity in order to have a credit card issued
  • Credit Card Theft – Any of the following:
    • Taking another person’s credit card without the cardholder’s consent or receiving a stolen credit card with the intent to use it or sell to someone who isn’t the cardholder
    • Receiving a credit card that you know is lost or misdelivered due to a mistaken address or cardholder identity and holding onto the card to use or sell it
    • Buying or selling a credit card (when not from/to the issuer)
    • Receiving a credit card you know was taken or retained due to credit card theft or other fraud
  • Credit Card Counterfeiting – Any of the following:
    • Falsely making or embossing a credit card, having a falsely made or embossed card, or having or transferring a card knowing it was falsely made or embossed
    • Signing a credit card you aren’t the authorized cardholder of with the intent to defraud others
  • Obtaining Property by Counterfeiting, Theft, or Misrepresentation – Using a credit card obtained fraudulently or that you know is counterfeit to obtain anything of value (money, goods, services) or obtaining those items without the consent of the cardholder or with a supposed credit card that hasn’t been issued
    • Receiving anything of value if you know or believe it was obtained this way is also prohibited
  • Fraud by Honoring a Stolen or Counterfeit Credit Card or False Representation to Issuer – When a person authorized by a credit card issuer gives away anything of value to a person knowing the credit card he or she used was stolen or counterfeit or fails to furnish any money, goods, or services to a person, but represents to the issuer that if he or she had.
  • Completing a Credit Card without Issuer Consent or Having Materials to Reproduce Credit Cards without Issuer Consent – Possessing an incomplete credit card with intent to complete it with a stamp, emboss, or imprint or having equipment to create a credit card without the issuer’s consent
  • Publishing a Telephone Card Number – Informing one or more people of a phone card number orally or in writing with the intent it be used fraudulently to avoid phone charges
  • Unauthorized Use or Disclosure of Credit Cards - Using or disclosing a credit or debit card number without being the cardholder, the consent of the cardholder, or another necessary use or disclosure (such as required by law, is court ordered, to process payment or fraud prevention, or made to a credit report bureau).


The penalties for each credit card fraud crime in Maryland are dictated by the statutes. The penalties are:

  • Credit Card theft and fraud in issuance are misdemeanors that can be penalized by up to 18 months in jail and a fine up to $500.
  • Credit card counterfeiting is a felony subject to up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $1,000.
  • Completing or reproducing credit cards without the issuer’s consent is a felony that can be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
  • Publishing phone card numbers is a misdemeanor that can be punished by up to 12 months in jail and a $500 fine.
  • The unlawful use or disclosure of card numbers is a felony subject to up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $1,000.

The penalty for obtaining or receiving anything of value by use of a counterfeit or stolen credit card or honoring a stolen or counterfeit card depends on the value of the items involved.

  • For less than $100 in goods, services, or other things of value, the crime is a misdemeanor punished by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
  • For between $100 and $1,000, it’s penalized by up to 18 months in custody and a $500 fine.
  • For between $1,000 and $10,000, it’s a felony subject to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • For $10,000 to $100,000 obtained fraudulently, the punishment is up to 15 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
  • For $100,000 or more, the person can be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

Civil Penalties

Finally, the unlawful use or disclosure of a card can also be penalized civilly. Each prohibited use or disclosure of a credit card number or cardholder’s signature is a separate violation subject to up to a $1,000 civil penalty. The Maryland Attorney General can also seek an injunction to prohibit a person from violating this again.

Note: State laws change all the time, it’s important to double-check the validity of the laws you’re researching.

Related Resources

Charged Under Maryland Credit and Debit Card Fraud Laws? Get Legal Help

Conviction of credit or debit card fraud can result in a lengthy prison sentence. Regardless of whether you believe you did the crime or it was all just a big misunderstanding, you'll want to protect your interests. So, if you've been charged with credit or debit card fraud in Maryland, it's best to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can help you craft your defense and represent you in court, if necessary.

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