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NY Penal Law § 165.17: Unlawful Use of Credit Card, Debit Card or Public Benefit Card

June 29, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

To procure goods or services by using a credit, debit or public benefit card that has been canceled is against the law . If you do this, you would commit theft. Through the wonders of modern technology, a vendor will normally be notified right away if a card is no longer valid. Nevertheless, there still are situations in which a vendor might not be notified immediately and, as a result, the sale goes through as though the card is valid. These days, this will generally only take place in the rare case of a manual transaction, or whether there is some sort of software or network error. Regardless of the method by which you were able to secure the goods or services with an invalid or revoked card, if you do this, you will have committed a crime.  It is against the law under New York Penal Law § 165.17 to use a credit, debit or public benefit card that you know has been revoked or cancelled to get any property or a service.


For Example

Alicia loves to go shopping. Unfortunately, she spends far too much money and, as a result, she has not been able to pay down her credit card debt. She was recently notified that one of her cards was cancelled, since she has not been able to make her bill payments. Later the same week, Alicia visited a street fair and a beautiful handmade scarf caught her eye. It was just her style and she had to have it. She thought perhaps that she would see if, by some miracle, she could still make the purchase on the canceled credit card. A smiled spread across Alicia’s face when she saw that the vendor simply jotted down the credit card number and expiration date, instead of swiping it through a machine. Very pleased to have the lovely scarf, Alicia signed the receipt and walked away with it around her neck. Alicia could get prosecuted for unlawful use of credit card because she was well aware that her credit card had been cancelled at the time of the purchase.


Offenses that are Related

Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree: New York Penal Law § 165.40

Petit larceny: New York Penal Law § 155.25

Grand larceny in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 155.30


Possible Defenses

According to the statute, you must be aware that the card you used was cancelled or revoked. If, for example, you swiped the card to purchase goods, but when you get back home you find a letter in your mailox that your card got cancelled, then you could not be convicted under this law. Additionally, if you are somehow able to use a revoked or cancelled card to secure goods or services, but you then pay for them by some other, legitimate method, you may have a defense against the charge.



Since unlawful use of credit card, debit card or public benefit card is a Class A misdemeanor if you are convicted, you could do time in county jail for up to one year.  On top of that, you may be ordered to pay a fine. It is also a possibility for a judge to sentence you to a probation term of 3 years.



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