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Tennessee Identity Theft Laws

Overview of Tennessee Identity Theft Laws

Although computers and Internet technology have elevated the sophistication and frequency of identity theft, it is hardly a new crime. Before hacking into computer networks or other high-tech means, identity thieves would (and still do) go through other people's trash in search of sensitive information. Data such as your Social Security number, home address, and your birth date may all be used by criminals to create fraudulent accounts or perpetrate other crimes under your name.

Nevertheless, the best way to protect yourself from this types of crime is to protect your sensitive information and to know how to detect identity theft early.

In Tennessee, identity theft is charged as a Class D felony, carrying a prison sentence of between two and 12 years and a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, the state may recover attorney fees and other legal costs, while a civil court may award the victim three times the actual damages and attorney's fees.

The basics of Tennessee's identity theft laws are detailed in the following table. See Identity Theft for a general overview of the crime.

Code Section Identity Theft Defined Tenn. Code Ann. §39-14-150 (1999) 'Identity Theft Deterrence Act' Tenn. Code Ann. §§47-18-2101 (1999) et seq.
Classification of Crime/Penalties Automatic class D felony. In addition to usual punishment for class D felony, state will be awarded restitution for reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses of investigation and prosecution
Who May Prosecute Attorney General may bring action to restrain or enjoin perpetrator from further identity theft acts, or to request freeze of perpetrator's assets, or for other appropriate or necessary measures; Otherwise any prosecuting authority may prosecute
Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws -
Civil Lawsuit Allowed? Civil action allowed
Civil Remedies Available Court may award 3 times the actual damages, and other relief as is necessary and proper; victim may enjoin perpetrator from further actions in violation of identity theft laws; victim may be awarded attorneys' fees and costs; civil penalty shall be awarded equal to the greatest of: $10,000, $5,000 per each day victim's identity is assumed, or 10 times the amount obtained or attempted to be obtained; victim shall receive restitution for all ascertainable loss, plus interest on the loss
Misc. If injunction obtained by Attorney General Is violated: civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation, plus contempt sanctions and award of attorney fees and costs to state for additional filings; Violation of identity theft laws will be a violation of "Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977"

Note: State laws are constantly changing. We make every effort to keep our state laws section up-to-date, but you may want to contact a Tennessee criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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