Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Device

Theft, Fraud and the Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Device, C.R.S. 18-5-702

Colorado has taken the common law definitions of Fraud and Theft, and broken them down into several more specific crimes such as Credit or Debit Card Fraud and Check Fraud. These, in turn, are more specifically charged as the Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Device, C.R.S. 18-5-702. This occurs in Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson County, because our way of doing business evolves and banking institutions develop more convenient ways of transacting business. Imagine how Visa or Mastercard gift cards did not exist twenty years ago. How about the ability to transfer funds over a smart phone? This was not even thought of in 1992.

The crime of Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Device in Adams, Denver and Broomfield County is defined under Colorado statute as follows: "A person commits unauthorized use of a financial transaction device if he uses such device for the purpose of obtaining cash, credit, property, or services or for making financial payment, with intent to defraud, and with notice that either: (a) The financial transaction device has expired, has been revoked, or has been cancelled; or (b) For any reason his use of the financial transaction device is unauthorized either by the issuer thereof or by the account holder".

How the Government and People Abuse This Law

Colorado residents must be cautious under this law. For example, it appears the government could arrest a person and charge them with a felony for using an expired credit card (or at least with Attempted Unauthorized Use of a Financial Device). Other situations of innocent people being charged in Weld, Larimer and Boulder County include circumstances following a break up of a relationship where a girlfriend or boyfriend was previously using a credit card with the permission of their partner. We have seen cases where the girlfriend calls the police and says that following the breakup she told the boyfriend he could no longer use her credit or debit card (hence the "use of the financial transaction device is unauthorized").

Felony and Misdemeanor Classifications

This crime is a class one misdemeanor if the value of the property taken is less than one thousand dollars, a class five felony if the value is one thousand but less than twenty thousand dollars, and a class three felony if the value of the property is twenty thousand dollars or more. Interestingly, the prosecutor or District Attorney is able to add up all the property wrongfully taken over a six month period to determine the crime's classification. We expect to see DAs looking at complex transactions and adding property values over different calendar months so as to maximize the crime charged.

If you are accused of either a misdemeanor or felony Unauthorized Use of a Financial Device, you need an experienced attorney to cover your back. Call our lawyers today at the O'Malley Law Office, 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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