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Credit and Debit Card Fraud in Washington State

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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In Washington State credit and debit card fraud is called “unlawful factoring of transactions” under RCW 9a.56.290. Under this law, credit and debit card fraud can be carried out in five different ways. A person commits the crime of unlawful factoring of a credit card or payment card transaction if the person:

• (a) Uses a scanning device to obtain information encoded on a payment card without the permission of the authorized user or with the intent to defraud the authorized user, another person, or a financial institution;

• (b) Uses a reencoder to place information encoded on a payment card onto a different card without the permission of the authorized issuer or with the intent to defraud the authorized user, another person, or a financial institution;

• (c) Presents to a financial institution for payment a payment card transaction record that is not the result of a payment card transaction between the cardholder and the person;

• (d) Employs, solicits, or otherwise causes a merchant or an employee, representative, or agent of a merchant to present to or deposit with a financial institution for payment a payment card transaction record that is not the result of a payment card transaction between the cardholder and the merchant; or

• (e) Employs, solicits, or otherwise causes another to become a merchant for purposes of engaging in conduct made unlawful by this section. RCW 9a.56.290.

Unlawful factoring of a credit card or payment/debit card is a class C felony. A second or subsequent violation of Washington’s credit card fraud law is a class B felony.

In some credit card fraud crimes, the credit card in question is physically present. For example, when a person’s credit or debit card is stolen or when a new payment card is applied for in another person’s name. In other credit card fraud crimes, the card itself is not present. In such cases having the credit or debit card number alone is sufficient to carry out the fraud. For example, fraudulent charges can be made online or over the phone with only the numbers.

In many cases charges for alleged unlawful factoring of transactions (credit or debit card fraud) are accompanied by charges for identity theft. This is particularly true in cases where the credit or debit card was not present during the commission of the alleged crime. In Washington State identity theft is committed when a person knowingly uses the identification or financial information of another person, living or dead, with the intent to commit any crime. RCW 9.35.020.

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