Making purchases online is very convenient thanks to the use of online credit card payments that do not require the use of your physical card. All you have to do is enter your card numbers to complete a purchase that will be shipped to your Massachusetts address. However, the increased use of online credit card purchases also allows for greater opportunities for malicious parties to steal your credit card information.

According to Nerdwallet, how stolen credit card use is punished depends on different variables relating to the crime. There is a major difference between using a credit card that is not yours by accident and possessing criminal intent to steal and use another person’s card. Sometimes a person that uses a family member’s card unintentionally may work out the problem with the card holder without involving the law.

However, in the event a person had criminal intentions, there are other factors that can magnify the severity of the crime. A person with no criminal history may face a lighter penalty than someone who had been charged and found guilty of past crimes. The amount of money charged on a stolen card can also affect a criminal sentence, with higher dollar amounts possibly adding to the penalty. It can also matter if the card holder was elderly, as crimes against elderly persons can be more severely punished.

There are also acts that can cause a person to be charged with additional crimes on top of using a stolen credit card. Federal law criminalizes the use of devices that make it possible to steal someone’s financial information. For instance, people who try to steal someone’s identity use a device called a skimmer to get credit card numbers that they can use later on for purchases.

If the crime is severe enough, a person might face a felony charge instead of a less serious misdemeanor. This is why it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney in the event law enforcement suspects you of engaging in credit card theft. Since cases involving misuse of credit cards take different forms, read this article only for informative purposes and not for legal counsel.