The act of obtaining and/or using another individual's personally identifying information -- such as Social Security numbers and birth dates -- is called identity theft. Identity thieves typically use this data to fraudently open credit card accounts or even to commit crimes in another's name. Washington identity theft laws charge the crime as a felony, with sentences of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 for the most serious offenses.
The basics of Washington's identity theft laws can be found in the following chart. See FindLaw's Identity Theft section for more information and tips.
|Code Section||Wash. Rev. Code §§9.35.001 (1999) et seq.|
|Classification of Crime/Penalties||If loss is less than $1,500 ("identity theft in second degree"): class C felony; if loss is greater than $1,500 ("identity theft in the first degree"): class B felony Perpetrator is liable for the greater of $500 or actual damages, and for reasonable attorney fees|
|Who May Prosecute||Any prosecuting authority|
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws||Criminal statute does not apply to: (1) efforts by financial institutions to test security procedures or to maintain confidentiality of customer information, (2) investigations of employee misconduct or negligence, or (3) efforts to recover personal information of the financial institution obtained by another person in any manner described in (1) or (2) above; Criminal statute does not apply to minors seeking to obtain privileges denied to minors|
|Civil Lawsuit Allowed?||Civil action allowed|
|Civil Remedies Available||Civil damages equal to the greater of $500 or actual damages, including costs to repair victim's credit record and reasonable attorney fees|
|Misc.||Any person or entity with whom the perpetrator undertook a transaction in the victim's name must provide the victim with all relevant information upon request; Violation of identity theft laws will be an unfair or deceptive act in trade or commerce and an unfair method of competition for purposes of the consumer protection act|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Washington Identity Theft Laws: Related Resources
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