‘Tis the Season for IL Law Enforcement to Crack Down on Identity Theft
The Christmas season is nearly upon us again. It’s that time of year to prepare for presents, family dinners, and…you guessed it — identity theft.
As the sheer volume of online holiday purchases continues to soar, it only makes sense that the holiday season doesn’t just mean an increase in retail theft anymore, but in identity theft as well.
In turn, Illinois law enforcement is on high alert for acts of identity theft from now through the end of the year.
Identity Theft and the Holidays in Illinois
One woman in Illinois currently faces multiple charges of identity theft after attempting to defraud Hertz Rental. She used another person’s credit card and a forged piece of ID.
The fake driver’s license was modified to contain identification matching the victim’s credit card, but the photo on the ID was replaced with the offender’s image.
This is only one method Illinois police are hawk-eyeing this season. They are on to card readers scams and are no longer limiting their search to gas stations. Law enforcement is also looking at retail outlets where patrons often swipe or tap their cards.
They are even hip to various covert camera set-up operations that appear to be security cameras. They know these cams can actually set up to obtain personal information.
Since shoppers are out and about and constantly swiping, tapping and withdrawing, the chance for thieves to obtain information is a lot higher, and Illinois police are matching that with increased vigilance.
Illinois Cyber Attacks and Identity Theft
Apart from retail identity theft scenarios, Illinois law enforcement continues to evolve their digital identity theft training, as well. Two of the most common methods used by identity thieves are social engineering and phishing.
Social engineering relies on human interaction. The thief typically tricks the victim and obtain personal information as a result of this trickery.
For example, the thief may send a text message to someone with a link. Once this link is clicked, the thief gains access into the victim’s phone and may be able to obtain personal information stored there.
Phishing for Information
Phishing is similar to social engineering but usually takes place through an email link onto a website. The email sent by thieves will often seem authentic to the user.
For example, the email may appear to be from a financial institution and then proceed to ask for banking information.
Both of these forms of cyberattacks are especially prevalent during the holiday season and Illinois police are urging citizens to critically assess texts and emails to avoid being scammed.
Police Crackdowns Lead to IL Charges and Penalties
Due to the high rate of identity theft over the holiday seasons, police agencies in Illinois crackdown against the crime this time of year. If an individual accused of identity theft, they may be subject to severe penalties.
Identity theft is considered a type of fraud. However, identity theft differs from many other fraud charges because the range of penalties is so severe.
Those accused of identity theft can be charged with anything from Class A misdemeanors all the way to Class X felonies. That’s a range of less than one year to three decades of imprisonment. Penalties are dictated by the amount stolen as well as the presence of any aggravating factors.
This Christmas season, be aware that identity theft is occurring at a high-rate and that police are aware of this. Understand that if you intend to commit identity theft in Illinois, chances are you’ll be caught and charged.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.