New scam: Texts offering Illinoisans Real ID upgrades

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Illinois scammers are texting people, offering to update their driver’s licenses to Real IDs. “Don’t fall for it,” Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White warns.

The scammers are just out to get people to click on their link and give them personal information, the Secretary of State says.

“I have zero tolerance for scammers who prey on people in desperate times,” White said in a press release.

“The scam has nothing to do with getting a Real ID,” Illinois Secretary of State’s office spokesperson Henry Haupt says. “It is a phishing scam.”

An Illinois resident cannot upgrade a driver’s license to a Real ID by going online, Haupt says. People need to apply in person at Illinois Driver Services. Bring a certified birth certificate, passport, social security card or other valid identification to the office. Before going to Driver Services, Haupt recommends visiting the Illinois Secretary of State Real ID for a list of acceptable documents.

No one is required to get a Real ID, Haupt says. However, if residents want to board a domestic airline flight at a U.S. airport or military base after October 1, 2021, a standard state driver’s license will no longer be accepted as proof of identification. People will need to show the TSA agent a Real ID or a passport or other designated ID.

A Real ID looks just like a regular state-issued driver’s license, except that it has a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. The Real ID Act, which was passed by Congress, is an enhanced security measure mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. Until October 1, 2021, current Illinois driver’s licenses and Illinois ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities. Haupt says that 50% of Illinoisans have passports.

People do not need to apply for a Real ID if they have a current passport or other ID that is accepted by the TSA.

People should report identity theft or text scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield) or 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale), or file an online complaint.

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