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            Nowadays it seems like everyone and their mother want to get their mitts on your credit/debit card.  While each person may have a different motive for gaining access to your bank account, the explosion of card usage has prompted law enforcement to empathize their right to swipe a user’s card.

            In United States v. DE L’Isle, No. 15-1316 (8th Cir. 2016).the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the police do not require a warrant to access the information contained in the magnetic strip in the card.   In De L’Isle, a routine traffic stop of the Defendant’s vehicle revealed dozens of different debit/credit/gift cards, which police found suspicious given that most people don’t carry 40+ cards on them at once.  The police arrested the Defendant and used a magnetic strip reader to determine the content located inside the strip to determine if the cards had been stolen or altered in anyway.   The Defendant challenged the search of the cards as violating his 4th Amendment right to be free from warrantless search and seizure.

The Court’s opinion is really quite interesting as it examines whether or not a person has the reasonable expectation of privacy in their card information, especially considering the amount of cards used by the world everyday.  When combined with the explosion in identity theft and cyber-crime, the Eighth Circuit found that the search was reasonable and the evidence admissible in court.

The De L’Isle case is yet another instance of the judiciary intersecting with technology to protect the rights of those who are behaving legally, and those looking to exploit the holes in technology that haven’t been patched-up yet.   The information contained on our devices can lead law enforcement to offenders faster than ever before, but many people still aren’t willing to give up their privacy in exchange.

If you have been a victim of identity theft or credit-card fraud, contact Calabrese Legal Services NOW to secure your personal information and protect from future attempts at fraud.

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