Senator Steve Saland Announces That His Bill To Tighten Penalties For Credit Card Fraud Has Passed The Senate

Stephen M. Saland

May 30, 2007

Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that his bill to include theft of credit or debit card numbers within the crime of grand larceny in the fourth degree has passed the Senate.

"Credit card thieves continue to become more savvy and creative. In years past when shopping was always done in person in a store, a thief had to actually have a stolen credit card in his possession in order to use it fraudulently," said Senator Saland. "Now that we shop by phone and over the Internet, all we need is a credit or debit card number -- not the actual card -- to shop. Unfortunately, in this case, the law has not caught up to technology. While it is against the law to use a stolen credit or debit card number, it is not against the law to possess one. This bill changes that", Saland continued.

While it is an E felony to steal property consisting of a credit card or debit card, if a thief steals a credit or debit card account number instead of the actual, physical card, no crime has been committed until the thief actually uses the account number and obtains goods, money or services. In a retail establishment, a credit or debit card can be entered into a device to capture account information and then the card is returned to the customer who is unaware that his account number has been stolen. Dishonest employees can copy account numbers from sales receipts or during phone orders and thieves can steal credit card bills from the mail or hack into personal computers. Account numbers can also be obtained through phishing -- sending fraudulent e-mails purporting to be from legitimate companies that ask for credit card information to be updated or amended or reentered by the customer in order to maintain the business relationship.

"With technological advances proceeding at a rapid pace, criminals are finding ways to use this new technology before laws can be enacted to address these types of crimes. This is another step for law enforcement to use to protect the public from thieves who would steal their personal account information and run up fraudulent credit card bills or steal cash through their debit card", Saland added.

The bill, which would take effect November 1st, has now been sent to the Assembly.