November 23, 2016 By Wallin & Klarich

Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for pretty much anything. Many of us don’t think twice about handing our credit card over the counter to make a quick purchase or using it to buy something online. Those plastic cards can come in handy. However, many people do not realize that credit cards store your information on them.police-computer-300x130.jpg

Magnetic strips on the back of credit cards contain a few lines of information on them. This includes your name, account number and other details about you. Information printed on the front of the card is supposed to match that on the magnetic strip, indicating whether the card is counterfeit.

So, let’s say you were in possession of a large amount of credit cards. If a police officer was conducting a normal search of your person or other property and found these cards, it could raise suspicion,. In this case, could the officer scan your credit cards without a warrant? This question was recently answered by the Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Is a Swipe of Your Credit Card Considered a Search?

A recent case (United States v. DE L’Isle, No. 15-1316 (8th Circ. 2016)) questioned if police swiping a card’s magnetic strip was in violation of Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches and seizures. In the case, police came across a stack of credit, debit, and gift cards during a traffic stop of the defendant. The cards were handed over to U.S. Secret Service agents who found that the magnetic strips stored stolen information or no account information at all.

The defendant argued the search of the cards was in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights because the magnetic strip contained personal information about his account. However, the court ruled that the swiping of the card was not a physical intrusion or trespass into the defendant’s protected space. Additionally, there would be no expectation of privacy on credit cards because they are meant to make purchases. The owner of the card transfers information to the seller freely, preventing credit cards from being constitutionally protected.

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one has been arrested and you believe your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, it is important that you speak to an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our experienced attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing criminal charges for over 35 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney near you no matter where you live or work.

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