New Illinois Supreme Court Rule to mitigate identity theft instances

Amid the growing use of computer technology, identify theft has become a rampant problem in the United States. According to the most recent estimate, over 13 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2013-an increase of 500,000 from 2012. Credit-card data theft in particular is a widespread problem. The U.S. Department of Justice indicates that credit-card theft has doubled within the last several years.

Fortunately, an Illinois Supreme Court Rule was recently amended that aims to protect personal information from getting into the wrong hands.

Specifics of the rule

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 138 was adopted in October 2012 and took effect January 1, 2014.

Specifically, the rule states that "in civil cases, personal identify information shall not be included in documents or exhibits filed with the court." This includes both paper and electronic court filings.

Full social security numbers, driver's license information, bank account, credit card or debt card numbers can no longer be included in court documents. This is to prevent potential identity thieves from obtaining the information and using it for various theft scams.

The last four digits of a person's Social Security or taxpayer identification number, driver's license, credit card or debit card number, however, is acceptable.

Exceptions

Documents already filed that contain the full numbers can be redacted if necessary. If such full personal information is needed to be included in a court document, a confidential filing can be done. A party must provide a form entitled: "Notice of Personal Identity Information Within Court Filing." In these cases, documents containing sensitive information will remain confidential and will only be accessible to the parties in the case, the court and the clerk of clerk.

Help in family law cases

The new rule will be helpful in all cases that involve the use and disclosure of personal information, but it is especially helpful in family law cases. Family law court documents often contain sensitive financial information due to the need to determine a couple's compilation of assets and debts.

Attorneys who are found willfully including such information or fail to redact pertinent data in violation of the new rule are likely to face sanctions including attorney fees and court costs.

Hopefully, the new rule will aid in protecting individual's personal information from being stolen.

Along with amendments to Rule 138, amendments to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 15 also took effect January 1, 2014. Rule 15 applies to the filing of confidential information in all non-civil cases.