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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76818 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Misuse of Cheque Cards and Credit Cards
Journal: Journal of Business Law  Dated:(April 1978)  Pages:129-140
Author(s): A T H Smith
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This survey of Great Britain's laws which are applicable to misuse of credit cards and check cards concludes that existing criminal deception and theft statutes can provide banks and other financial institutions with adequate protection against fraud.
Abstract: Although credit cards have been used extensively for some time, their existence was not recognized until the Consumer Credit Act of 1974, which defined the responsibilities of consumers and credit card issuers. Civil law has given little coverage to check cards issued by banks which guarantee that a bank will honor a check issued by a customer up to a certain amount even if the actual funds are not in the customer's account. Misuse of check and credit cards by unauthorized persons can be prosecuted successfully under current theft laws, and no new legislation is needed. Fraud by authorized possessors, however, presents different problems. Persons who obtain credit cards by providing false information about themselves could be charged with obtaining property by criminal deception. The misuse of check cards by authorized persons who knowingly overspent their credit and were charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage contrary to the 1968 Theft Act has been the subject of two decisions. In one case, the defendant was found guilty because she claimed that the check card was not in her possession when asked by the bank to return it and then proceeded to buy items, although her account was overdrawn. The second case focused on the relationships between the bank and the party who accepted the check card and involved several small checks which collectively exceeded the customer's overdraft limits. The House of Lords rejected the defendant's appeal on the grounds that the person accepting the check would not have done so if he had known the truth about the conditions imposed on its use. This decision implies that persons who charge many minor purchases simultaneously and thus exceed their credit limits could be subject to criminal charges. Canada's position that criminal law should be invoked only after an issuing house has withdrawn permission to use a card seems sensible. Refusal to return a card could be interpreted as theft and punished under criminal law. although there are some valid arguments for creating specific laws to cover credit card and check card fraud, this review suggests that existing law is capable of handling the problem. Approximately 40 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Check fraud; Credit card fraud; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Law reform; Laws and Statutes
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