Are you being accused of check fraud? If so, you may not be sure of what check fraud is exactly and you may not even know which law it’s criminalized under. “Check fraud is a criminal act which involves the unlawful use of checks to illegally acquire or borrow funds that do not exist within the account balance or account-holder’s legal ownership,” according to plano.gov.
There are many ways that check fraud can be committed. If a forger gets their hands on lost checks, or if they steal someone’s checks, or if they make their own counterfeit checks, it opens the door for check fraud. Forgers can steal checks from people’s mailboxes, or they can steal a check that someone is mailing out from their home mailbox.
Forgers can make counterfeit checks with information from fraud victims’ canceled checks or checking account statements. Generally, debit cards are safer than checks because if they are lost or if they are used fraudulently, the debit card holder can call their bank and have them cancelled immediately and rendered useless. But with checks, the problems can go on for a while, causing major headaches for victims.
Check Fraud Under Texas Law
Check fraud is often charged as “forgery” under Section 32.21 of the Texas Penal Code. Under this section, it’s against the law to “alter, make, complete, execute, or authenticate any writing” so it purports to be another’s act who did not authorize it, or to make it look like it was executed at a time or place or in a sequence that was not so, or that purports it to be a copy of an original that never existed.
What are the Penalties for Check Fraud?
Forgery is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor; however, it is a state jail felony when the writing purports to be a check or credit card. A state jail felony is punishable by up to two years in jail and by a $10,000 fine.
Stealing a stolen check is against the law under Section 32.24 of the Penal Code. Under this section, stealing an unsigned check is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and by a $4,000 fine.
Related: What is Document & Benefit Fraud?