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Is it a crime to use a dead relative’s credit card?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Theft crimes |

While credit and debit cards make purchasing things much more convenient, they’re also tied to the accounts and identities of the persons they’re registered with. This means it’s illegal to use the payment card of another person.

But what if you’re using the card of a recently deceased relative? Would there still be a problem if you’re using the cash of someone no longer around?

It’s still a crime, according to North Carolina law. In fact, severe penalties await those who use the payment cards of the deceased to make fraudulent transactions.

Using the card of a departed person is identity theft

Under state law, a person who knowingly obtains, possesses or uses identifying information of another – whether living or dead – to make a fraudulent transaction under that other’s name is guilty of identity theft.

Possessing and using the following identifying information of another counts as identity theft:

  • Credit card numbers
  • Debit card numbers
  • Checking and saving account numbers
  • PIN codes
  • Passwords

Using other identifying information such as Social Security Numbers, driver’s license and passport numbers is also prohibited by law.

This offense is punishable as a Class G felony unless the person possesses the identifying information of three or more separate persons – in which case, it’s a Class F felony.

The penalties for identity theft

If a court convicts a person of identity theft as a Class G felony, the person faces up to four years of prison time. However, a conviction for a Class F felony instead carries up to five years of imprisonment. A court may also order the person to pay a fine and restitution.

In conclusion, it’s a crime to use a dead relative’s payment cards, even if they’re no longer able to use them. Anyone convicted of using a card to make fraudulent purchases will face years of imprisonment for deceit, not to mention an identity theft offense will appear on their criminal record.