Illinois Law Now: Identity theft protection questions, and others, answered

The Madison County Record Dec. 9, 2011, 4:46am

IllinoisLawNow is an ongoing series of short answers to common legal questions distributed monthly by the Illinois State Bar Association and Illinois Press Service.

Question: How can I protect myself from identify theft while holiday shopping?

Answer: Carry only the credit or debit cards you know you'll need that day. When making a purchase, be aware of where your card goes and try not to get distracted during the transaction. Get your credit or debit card back immediately after a purchase. Always take receipts with you – never dispose of them in a public trash container. If you use a debit or credit card for coffee or a snack, never leave receipts on the table.

Question: How can I protect myself from identify theft when shopping online?

Answer: When shopping on the Internet, use a secure browser. Look for secure websites that begin with "https://." Try to shop only with companies you know. Use passwords that are difficult to crack like unpredictable strings of letters and numbers, and keep them private. Keep a record of all transactions, and check billing statements to make sure the charges are accurate. Beware of using public Wi-Fi networks to shop. Make sure your electronic devices have the latest software to protect against viruses, scams and other crimes.

Question: I'm changing my last name to that of my civil union partner. Can this be reflected on my driver's license?

Answer: Yes. The Illinois Secretary of State now accepts a certified civil union certificate, or certified same-sex marriage certificate, issued by the state in which the same-sex marriage is lawful, to allow a party to the civil union to make a name change on his or her driver's license, state identification card, vehicle title or vehicle registration.

Question: My husband is returning soon from Iraq. Will he be able to return to his former job?

Answer: Possibly, if he meets certain conditions. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, military personnel must:

· Have given written or verbal advance notice to their employer;

· Not have a cumulative length of absences due to service in excess of five years;

· Must submit an application for reemployment within an appropriate time frame, which varies depending on the length of military service and whether the person has a service-connected injury or illness.

Question: My 11-year-old son wants an electric scooter for Christmas. Can they be ridden on public sidewalks and streets, and also, will he need some type of license?

Answer: Given his age and laws on the books in most municipalities, he would probably only be able to ride the scooter on private property. Electric scooters are considered motor vehicles, which means the user would need a driver's license to use it on public streets. Your son is not eligible for a license until he reaches 16.

A bill designed to specifically cover "motorized scooters" was introduced in the Illinois legislature last spring. It would have made them illegal on streets and sidewalks, unless a local ordinance specifically permitted them. Although that proposed law failed to pass, laws already basically treat any scooter with a motor like a car.

For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to

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