Because of the vast number of visitors to Central Florida each year, the area is a haven for stolen credit cards.

However, what constitutes the usage of a stolen credit card is more broad that most people think. You can be guilty of credit card theft if you:

  • Steal a credit card
  • Take a credit card that had been mislaid
  • Buy a credit card that belongs to someone else
  • Use someone else’s credit card as security for a debt
  • Forge, alter or counterfeit a credit card
  • Sign someone else’s credit card
  • Use an expired credit card

These laws apply not just to credit cards. Florida includes ATM cards, bank cards, debit cards and check cards along with credit cards.

The penalties

The state considers it a first-degree misdemeanor if you have two offenses within a six-month period or the amount of goods the card was used to buy was less than $100. It’s a third-degree felony if you use a stolen card more than three times in a six-month period or you used the card to obtain cash or items worth more than $100

The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor for credit card theft or fraud is restitution, up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalty for a third-degree felony is restitution, up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Recent scams

Credit card thieves don’t need to have your physical card to steal your credit.

One report recently said the U.S. Secret Service is investigating an ATM scam called “jackpotting,” in which thieves install software into an ATM that causes it to spit out large amounts of money.

Meanwhile, the number of gas pump credit skimmers has increased in Central Florida, along with better technology. Thieves now look for unattended pumps and insert hardware into the machine that sends your credit card information via Bluetooth technology to a computer.

Your only defense, experts say, is to watch your credit card statements for any false charges and report them immediately to your provider.

If you or a loved one is facing credit card theft charges, your best advice is to contact a lawyer knowledgeable in the intricacies of Florida law.