As the use of smart phones, online shopping, and high speed Internet grows, the crime of identity theft is becoming more prevalent. In fact, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. In order to combat this crime, the federal government and many states have passed laws making various forms of identity theft illegal. Read on to learn more about West Virginia's identity theft laws.
West Virginia Laws Related to Identity Theft
The following table briefly explains West Virginia’s main identity theft laws
|Code Sections||West Virginia Code Section 61-3-54: Taking the Identity of Another Person and Chapter 46A, Article 6L: Theft of Consumer Identity Protections|
|What is Prohibited?||West Virginia law prohibits knowingly taking the name, birth date, social security number, or any other identifying information of another person without that person’s consent, with the intent to falsely represent that he or she is that other person to make financial or credit transactions in that person’s name.|
|Penalty||Identity theft is a felony that can be punished by up to 5 years in prison or fined not more than $1,000 or both|
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws||The criminal identity theft statute doesn’t apply to minors seeking to get privileges denied them, such as an underage person trying to get into a bar or buy cigarettes.|
|Who Prosecutes?||The local prosecuting attorney will most likely prosecute an identity theft crime. However, the Attorney General does enforce West Virginia’s consumer protection laws so it’s a good idea to call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 if identity theft happens to you.|
|Credit Security Freezes||West Virginia law permits consumers to request a security freeze from consumer reporting agencies where a person can’t open a new credit card or other line of credit.
A person whose identity is stolen may want a security freeze to prevent further harm. However, if you know you’ll need credit in the near future, such as to buy a car, the “unfreezing” procedures may delay your ability to apply for credit.
If you’re the victim of an identity theft crime, you should report the crime to the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-368-8808 and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online. You may also want to consult with an experienced West Virginia consumer protection lawyer to learn about other legal options.
On the other hand, if you’ve been accused of identity theft, you need to speak to an experienced local criminal defense lawyer or your assigned public defender.
Note: State and federal laws are updated regularly. You should contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these identity theft laws.
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