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New Jersey Credit Card Fraud Laws

New Jersey has several criminal laws that relate to credit and debit card fraud. These laws can be found in N.J.S. 2C:21-6 and they fall into two categories. The first category relates to how the credit or debit card is obtained. The second category relates to how the credit card is used.

Credit Card Application Fraud

Applying for a credit card and making up information is a crime. Specifically, lying about your identity to obtain a credit card or simply lying about your financial condition can get you into trouble.

Credit Card Theft

Basically it is illegal to take someone credit card without their permission, i.e. theft. That's not all, however. You can also be guilty of a crime if someone else gives you a stolen credit card, you know about it, and intend to use it, sell it, or transfer it to another person. Also, if you have more than two (2) stolen credit cards in your possession, the law presumes you are guilty.

Fraudulently Making Your Own Credit Cards

Thinking of getting into the credit card issuing business? Better not. Credit card theft in New Jersey also includes falsely making or embossing a purported credit card, or using such a card, when your intention is to defraud the issuer, or anyone else providing goods or services.

Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card

Using or attempting to use a stolen credit card is illegal. What about the person on the other end such as the cashier. It is also a crime when a person accepts the stolen or fraudulent credit card knowing that the credit card was falsified, or obtained fraudulently, as described above.

The following table highlights the main provisions of New Jersey's credit and debit card fraud laws. See Are You Responsible for Unauthorized Credit Card Charges?, Fraud and Financial Crimes, Theft Overview, and Business Data Breach and Customer ID Theft for more information.

Code Sections

Credit Card Theft N.J.S. 2C:21-6 et. seq.

What is Prohibited

See explanation above


Misdemeanor or Felony, degree depends on facts and nature of the crime

Definition of a Credit Card

"Credit card" means any tangible or intangible card or device that can be used to obtain money, goods, services or anything else of value on credit, including credit cards, credit plates, account numbers, or any other means of account access.

Common Types of Credit Card Fraud

Using False Statements to Get a Card - This is considered a crime of the fourth degree and carries a sentence of up to 18 months in jail, up to $10,000 in fines, along with restitution.

Altered card -Increasing a card’s credit limit without authorization, or adding a magnetic strip to a card.

Theft of a card - Using someone else’s card without their consent.

Internet theft - Stealing credit card numbers and other information through hacking.

Skimming – Using a sophisticated electronic device that reads a card’s magnetic strip.

Copying Sales Receipts - An employee or someone who copies the credit card number from a sales receipt for fraudulent use.

Hijacked Account - After obtaining unlawful access to a bank or other financial account, a criminal agrees to purchase a large item advertised online. The alleged buyer says he wants the shipping and handling to be covered by a third party and that they will send an extra payment, which comes from the hijacked account, to the vendor for this purpose. The vendor sends the money to the scammer by electronic transaction and the scammer is able to launder the funds. The transfer would otherwise be easily detected if they merely transferred the hijacked funds to their own account.

Credit Card Forums - These are underground internet groups set up to exchange and sell stolen credit card information and products and to exchange tips and techniques.


Victim Restitution

A victim of identity theft may bring a civil suit against a person who has used his or her personal identifying information. The court may award the victim three times the costs of the identity theft, including the costs of clearing the victim’s credit history, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.

What to Do If You Are a Victim

  • Report the Incident to a Law Enforcement Agency: A person who believes they are a victim of an identity theft or credit card fraud is encouraged to promptly report those facts to a law enforcement agency. In New Jersey a victim can report an Identity Theft to the Office of the County Prosecutor of the county where the theft is believed to have taken place, or to the local police department., 1-800-282-0515.
  • Notify you credit card company immediately: Note the date, time and person to whom you reported the loss or theft. Once you report the loss or theft, you are not responsible for charges you didn’t authorize. Your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
  • Contact the three major credit card bureaus: Experian: 1-888-397-3742; Equifax: 1-800-766-0008; TransUnion: 1-877-322-8228
  • Opt out of getting credit card offers in the mail: calling 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5OPT-OUT). You'll be asked to provide some personal information such as name, address and Social Security Number, but that information will be used only to process your request

Because New Jersey's consumer and criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced consumer protection or criminal defense lawyer if you have questions about your specific situation.


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