In Tennessee, identity theft is considered a Felony crime. It is a malicious act where an individual’s personal information is fraudulently obtained and used by someone else without consent, often for financial gain. It involves stealing and exploiting sensitive details such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, bank account numbers, and passwords.
Perpetrators engage in various methods, including phishing emails, data breaches, skimming devices, and online scams, to acquire personal data and “steal identities.”
Once in possession of the stolen information, identity thieves assume the victim’s identity to commit a range of crimes, such as opening fraudulent bank accounts, obtaining credit cards, applying for loans, or making unauthorized purchases. Victims are left with extensive financial losses and damaged credit scores.
Tennessee law recognizes that while banks, financial institutions, and businesses are also victims, the person whose identity is stolen “suffers definite and measurable losses and also suffers immeasurable damages such as stress and anxiety as well as possible health problems resulting from or aggravated by the offense.”
Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-14-150, also known as the “Identity Theft Victims’ Rights Act of 2004,” outlines the offense of this crime. It states that it is unlawful to possess, use, or distribute another person’s personal identifying information, including their name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, or financial account numbers, without their consent and with the intent to commit fraud or other illegal activities.
Identity Trafficking is a part of this law in which “A person commits the offense of identity theft trafficking who knowingly sells, transfers, gives, trades, loans or delivers, or possesses with the intent to sell, transfer, give, trade, loan or deliver, the personal identifying information of another.”
Identity Theft is a Felony. If convicted of the crime of Identity Theft in Tennessee, the penalties can be severe.
Identity theft is generally a Class D felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
However, certain aggravating factors can elevate the offense to a Class B felony. These factors include using the stolen identity:
• to commit a felony offense
• to victimize elderly individuals
• to cause significant financial harm to the victim.
A Class B felony carries harsher penalties, including imprisonment of up to 30 years and fines of up to $25,000.
Identity Trafficking is a Class C Felony. Class C felonies usually carry 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
The Identity Theft Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 grants victims the ability to request a police report, place a security freeze on their credit report, and seek restitution for financial losses and expenses incurred due to identity theft.
Identity theft convictions can come with harsh penalties that you want to avoid. A lapse in judgment or a miscommunication can result in charges, that if convicted, can bring on life-altering consequences. Not only would you have to worry about jail time and fines, but you would also face paying restitution and would have a criminal record. A criminal record can affect your ability to get or keep a job, find housing, or obtain a loan, among other things.
As an experienced criminal defense trial lawyer, Attorney Clarke will use his experience, talent, and skills to defend you. If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft or identity trafficking, you need the best possible defense to avoid a conviction. Let us work with you to develop a strategy for your defense to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.