New state law is
intended to reduce the potential for such criminal activity. Gov.
Rod Blagojevich has enhanced law enforcement's ability to protect
consumers from identity theft by signing legislation that expands
the scope of personally identifying information that is protected
and the list of prohibited activities used to obtain another's
advances have resulted in more convenience and opportunities for
consumers," Blagojevich said. "Unfortunately, some of those advances
have also opened new doors for those looking to profit at other
people's expense. Identity theft has become one of the most common
and damaging crimes in our modern age. The steps we're taking …
[with legislation signed July 31] will improve our ability to
protect consumers' information as they conduct business and
communicate using new technology."
According to the
Federal Trade Commission, nearly 7,500 Illinoisans were victims of
identity theft in 2002. The most common use of stolen identifying
information was credit card fraud -- making up 42 percent of
Illinois' identity theft cases. Another 26 percent involved phone or
utility fraud, and 15 percent involved bank fraud.
The FTC outlined the
seriousness of the emerging crime, "People whose identities have
been stolen can spend months or years -- and thousands of dollars --
cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and
Business groups and
law enforcement organizations joined forces in pushing for passage
of Senate Bill 242, the Identity Theft Law, sponsored by state Sen.
Ira Silverstein and state Rep. Kevin Joyce.
[to top of second column in this
While the previous
law targeted those who use personal information for financial
purposes, the new law is broader to help law enforcement officers
shut down individuals or groups who obtain personal identifying
information. Now anyone who obtains, possesses, sells, transfers,
manufactures or uses personal identification information or
documents with the intention of committing or aiding a felony can be
charged with a Class 4 felony. Subsequent ID theft offenses become
Class 3 felonies.
In addition to
expanding the activities covered, the new law also expands the
definition of "personal identifying document" to include any
document intended for identifying an individual and made or issued
by the federal, state or local government, or by a governmental
subdivision or quasi-governmental organization. Previously, the law
was limited to a list of specific documents, including drivers'
licenses and birth certificates.
"I'd like to thank
Senator Silverstein and Representative Joyce for their hard work on
behalf of Illinois consumers," the governor said. "Because of their
efforts, we're making it clear to those who are involved in identity
theft: We will not tolerate activities that threaten the security of
personal information. Not only is it illegal to use someone else's
personal information to make purchases or obtain credit, it's also
illegal to try to obtain or share someone else's personal
information in the first place."
The new law becomes effective
Government News Network
press release and LDN]