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Virginia Credit and Debit Card Fraud Laws

Virginia has several criminal laws that relate to credit and debit card fraud and they fall into three categories: credit card theft, credit card fraud, and credit card forgery.

Credit Card Theft

In Virginia, it is illegal to take someone's credit card or credit card number without their permission. You also must have the intent to either use or sell it. Buying or selling cards or card numbers without authorization is also called credit card theft in Virginia.

The prosecutor must prove that the card or card number was wrongfully taken from its rightful owner or that it was received with the knowledge that it had been taken and with the intent to either use, sell, or transfer it. However, possession of multiple credit cards or credit card numbers of another person without the consent of the cardholder might serve as sufficient evidence that you violated this law.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is different than credit card theft because many of the forms of credit card fraud require that the defendant actually get some goods or services. Here, the crime can be in just attempting to use a stolen credit card. For example, a person is guilty of credit card fraud if he or she intends to defraud any person and does the following:

  • Using a revoked or expired credit card/card number in an attempt to get something of value
  • Falsely claiming to be the owner of a credit card/ number and successfully get something of value
  • Successfully using a false card or false number to get something of value
  • Using your card to deliberately get more money than your credit limit or draft amount allows

Credit Card Forgery

Credit card forgery occurs when a person commits any of the following acts with the intent to defraud:

  • Making a fake credit card
  • Signing the back of someone else’s credit card
  • Altering an otherwise valid credit card
  • Creating a forged or false sales draft, withdrawal draft, or advance draft

The following table highlights the main provisions of Virginia's credit card 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: §18.2-192

Credit card fraud: §18.2-195. et. seq.

Credit card forgery: §18.2-193

What is Prohibited

See explanation above


Credit card theft : Grand larceny, up to 12 months in jail, fines, restitution.

Credit card fraud: Class 1 misdemeanor if fraud is less than $200 in a six-month period, otherwise, class 6 felony.

Credit card forgery: Class 5 felony charge, punishable by jail time, penalties, and other consequences.

Examples of credit card fraud
  • Your wallet is lost or stolen and purchases are made on your credit card without your consent.
  • An unauthorized purchase appears on your credit card statement from an online retailer.

What to Do If You Are a Victim

1. File a police report.

2. Notify your 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.

3. Contact the three major credit card bureaus:

4. Opt out of getting credit card offers in the mail by 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 Virginia'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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