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Minnesota Credit and Debit Card Fraud

Credit card and debit card fraud is a commonplace crime in the 21st century. With many people using their bank cards instead of cash or checks for everyday transactions, the theft of the cards or the electronic theft of the card number and PIN can negatively impact consumer and financial institutions alike.

The Minnesota credit card and debit card fraud laws are outlined in the table below.

Code Section Minnesota Statutes Section 609.821 – Financial Transaction Card Fraud
What Is Prohibited? In Minnesota, it’s illegal to do any of the following credit and debit card related activities:
  • Using a credit or debit card without the cardholder’s consent to obtain property including money, goods, services, or anything else of value
  • Using a public assistance benefit or card sometimes called an EBT or EBS for Medical Assistance or Medicaid, General Assistance, food stamps or SNAP, WIC, or other social welfare benefits that is issued for another person
  • Using or attempting to use a forged or false credit or debit card
  • Selling or giving a credit or debit card without authorization by the issuer and cardholder
  • Receiving or possessing with the intent to use or sell two or more credit or debit cards in another person’s name or forged or false cards
  • Applying for a credit or debit card by providing a false name or job or knowingly substantially overvaluing assets or undervaluing debts to be issued a card
  • Applying for a public assistance benefit by knowingly making false statements or misrepresentations to be issued a public assistance benefit card
  • Falsely informing a card issuer that a card is lost or stolen with the intent to defraud the issuer
  • Falsely altering or signing any written document about a financial card transaction to get or attempt to get anything of value

For anyone authorized by a card issuer to furnish money, goods, services, or anything of value to the public, it’s illegal to do either of the following:

  • Provide anything of value to someone who knowingly uses a forged, expired, or revoked credit or debit card or knowing the person isn’t authorized to use the card
  • Representing in writing to the issuer anything of value was provided to anyone when in fact it hasn’t been provided

Penalties for the above types of credit, debit, and public assistance card fraud are punished in the following ways:

For using a card without its owner’s consent, using a fake card, forging or signing documents for card transactions, or retailers or business owners that provide or don’t provide items of value fraudulently:

  • If the value of the property obtained was more than $35,000 (this could be one transaction or the value of all transactions in a 6 month period together), up to 20 years imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine
  • If the property was valued between $2,500 and $35,000, up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $20,000
  • If the value stolen was between $250 and $2,500, then maximum prison time is 5 years and maximum fine is $10,000
  • If the property stolen was not more than $2,500, then imprisonment for up to 1 year and a fine up to $3,000
    • Unless the defendant has a prior conviction for robbery, burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, check fraud, within 5 years in which case the penalty is up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000

For selling a card or possessing two or more fake cards or cards issued to others, the penalty is at most 3 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

For providing false information to receive a card or public assistance benefit or for falsely claiming a card has been lost or stolen to defraud anyone, the penalty is either:

  • If nothing of value was obtained, 1 year imprisonment and a fine up to $3,000
  • If anything of value was received (besides the card itself), then it’s punished as described above based on the amount fraudulently obtained
Defenses Several defenses may be relevant to you or a loved one’s financial card fraud related crime. A few that may apply are:
  • Duress – being forced to do the crime against your will
  • Ignorance of the Crime – not knowingly doing anything to defraud anyone, such as using a card you thought was valid, but was forged
  • Infancy – for minors under 10 who are too young to be taken to juvenile court in Minnesota
  • Insanity – not mentally competent to go to trial

One way you can try to reduce or mitigate criminal penalties, for example as part of a plea bargain, is to pay restitution or give back the money or goods obtained fraudulently.

Note: State laws change often, it’s important to verify the accuracy of the laws you're researching.

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