Illinois law prohibits several types of identity theft. Perhaps the most basic definition is where you knowingly used the personal identifying information or documents of another person to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services or other property or to commit a felony. (See 720 ILCS 5/16-30).

A key element to the offense is the word “knowingly.” To convict you, the state must prove that you actually knew the information or documents you used belonged to another person.

For example, in People v. Fort, the defendant used a credit profile number (CPN) that he had purchased from a website. CPNs can be used to establish alternative credit. This CPN, however, was the social security number of an actual person. As a result, defendant was convicted of identity theft. The court, however, reversed defendant’s conviction because the state had failed to prove that defendant actually knew the CPN belonged to someone else.

Other identity theft offenses under Illinois law include: 1) possessing, selling, buying or manufacturing personal identification while knowing the documents were stolen or with intent to commit a felony; 2) possessing or dealing in document-making implements knowing they will be used to commit a felony; 3) using documents to falsely impersonate another or gain access to their information without their permission; or 4) using a radio frequency identification device capable of obtaining personal identifying information from a radio frequency identification tag or transponder with the knowledge that the device will be used to commit a felony.

If you are applying for a building permit, you may not provide the license number for a roofing or fire sprinkler contractor who you do not intend to use unless you promptly inform the municipality of the change in contractor.

You commit aggravated identity theft if your victim is above age 59 or is disabled or if your actions are intended to further the activities of an organized gang.

If you have been charged with identity theft or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Can they prove you knew the documents belonged to someone else or that you knew they would be used to commit a felony?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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