Illinois Identity Theft Laws
Overview of Illinois Identity Theft Laws
In the present era, identity theft is a common occurrence which many people have either experienced personally or heard about from someone they know. Although the crime is most often associated with the theft of a person's credit or debit card number to make unauthorized purchases, several other types of information -- some basic and publicly available -- are also encompassed within those subject to the law's protection (and punishment).
See FindLaw's Identity Theft section (Consumer Protection) to learn more about this crime and what you can do to minimize your risks.
Under Illinois identity theft law, any of the following information is considered "personal identifying" data: a person's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number or state identification card number, Social Security number, employer, place of employment, employment identification number, mother's maiden name, bank account number, credit card number, debit card number, personal identification number (PIN), electronic identification number, digital signals, user name, password, and any other numbers or information which can be used to access a person's financial resources, or to identify a specific individual, or his or her actions taken, communications made or received, or other activities or transactions.
A "personal identification document" includes any document made or issued by a governmental entity that is "of a type intended for the purpose of identification of an individual," or any such document that falsely purports to have been made on behalf of or issued to another person, or by the authority of one who did not give that authority. Examples of a personal identification document include a birth certificate, driver's license, social security card, credit card, and debit card.
A person commits identity theft when he or she knowingly:
- Uses any personal identifying information or personal identification document of another person to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services, or other property
- Uses any personal identification information or personal identification document of another with intent to commit any felony not set forth above
- Obtains, records, possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or manufactures any personal identification information or personal identification document of another with intent to commit any felony
- Uses, obtains, records, possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or manufactures any personal identification information or personal identification document of another knowing that such personal identification information or personal identification documents were stolen or produced without lawful authority
- Uses, transfers, or possesses document-making implements to produce false identification or false documents with knowledge that they will be used by the person or another to commit any felony
- Uses any personal identification information or personal identification document of another to portray himself or herself as that person, or to gain access to any personal identification information or personal identification document of such person, without his or her prior express permission
- Uses any personal identification information or personal identification document of another to gain access to any record of the actions taken, communications made or received, or other activities or transactions of such person, without his or her prior express permission
- In the course of applying for a building permit, provides the license number of a roofing or fire sprinkler contractor whom he or she does not intend to have perform said work
Keep in mind that identity theft often preceeds other types of fraud and financial crimes.
In addition to basic identity theft as described above, Illinois also criminalizes the "aggravated" form of the offense, which occurs when a person commits identity theft (a) against a person 60 years of age or older or a person with a disability; or (b) in furtherance of the activities of an organized gang.
With respect to the basic and aggravated forms of identity theft, the statute provides that the accused person's knowledge will be determined by an evaluation of all circumstances surrounding his or her use of the other person's identifying information or document. Where the value of the credit, money, goods, services, or other property is an element of the offense charged, the court or a jury will decide whether such value exceeds the requisite amount.
Defenses to Identity Theft Charges
- Lack of knowledge
- Regarding an application for a building permit: the permit applicant promptly informed the permit-issuing entity of any change in the roofing or fire-sprinkler contractor
- Infancy (for persons under 13 years of age)
NOTE: With regard to identity theft of a person 60 years of age or older, it is NOT a defense that the offender reasonably believed the person to be less than 60 years of age.
Penalties and Sentences
Identity theft convictions in Illinois range nearly the full spectrum of felony offenses, from Class 4 felonies on the "low" end to Class X felonies on the high end. The grade of a person's particular conviction will depend on the value of the credit, money, goods, services, or other property stolen, as well as aggravating factors such as previous convictions for related crimes and the victim's status as an active duty member of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces of the United States or of the Illinois National Guard.
Generally, the presence of an aggravating factor will raise a person's conviction to the next highest grade, or in some instances two grades in the presence of multiple aggravating factors. Thus, identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property of up to $300 in value is normally a Class 4 felony, but will be classified a Class 3 felony if one of the aforementioned factors are present. The highest grade bestowed on a conviction for identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property is a Class X felony, where the value of the stolen property exceeds $100,000.
A conviction of identity theft effectuated by any means other than the fraudulent obtaining of credit, money, goods, services, or other property is a Class 3 felony; commission of the offense related to an application for a building permit is a Class 4 felony.
Aggravated identity theft convictions range from Class 3 felonies for theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property between $300-$10,000 in value, to Class X felonies for theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $100,000 in value.
Sentences for identity theft convictions will vary according to the applicable felony level. Class 4 felonies are punishable by a term of 1-3 years in prison, periodic imprisonment of up to 18 months, or probation or conditional discharge of up to 30 months; a fine of up to $25,000; and/or restitution. The most serious identity theft convictions, Class X felonies, carry a heavier sentence of a 6 to 30 year mandatory prison term with no option of periodic imprisonment, probation or conditional discharge; a fine of up to $25,000 for each offense; and/or restitution.
Illinois Identity Theft Laws: Statute
Identity Theft - Criminal Code Article 16, Subdivision 15
- Illinois State Attorney General -- Identity Theft Hotline
- Fraud and Financial Crimes
- Tips to Help Protect Your Identity