Illinois consumers are reporting identity theft to the state at an alarming rate, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday. That means your good name, credit and sensitive bank account information are at risk of being stolen and used against you.
Identity theft ranked number one on Madigan’s list of Top 10 consumer complaints for 2017, released Monday morning.
“Identity theft is something everybody needs to be concerned about,” Madigan said. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when it’s going to happen to you.”
Identity theft previously ranked first on Madigan’s consumer complaint list in 2007. Madigan said her office received 2,511 complaints about identity theft in 2017.
She said the recent jump in complaints is due, in part, to the massive data breach sustained by Equifax. The company said in a statement, "At this time, Equifax is not aware of any confirmed evidence of identity theft caused by the incident announced on September 7, 2017."
According to Madigan, consumers can protect themselves from identity theft by placing a freeze on their credit report.
“That way, fraudsters should not be able to actually open an account in your name,” Madigan said.
Education-related complaints was number two on Madigan’s list with 2,399 complaints. Consumer debt, home improvement and telecommunications complaints also rank high on the list.
A spokesperson for Madigan said this will be the outgoing attorney general’s final “top ten” list of consumer complaints.
According to a press release, Madigan’s office has mediated nearly 400,000 formal complaints from consumers across Illinois, fielded hundreds of thousands of phone calls and inquiries every year and recovered billions in direct relief to Illinois consumers through litigation and mediation.
The full list:
- Identity Theft (credit cards, data breaches, utilities, government document fraud) with 2,511 complaints.
- Education (student loan debt, loan counselling, for-profit schools) with 2,399 complaints.
- Consumer Debt (collection agencies, mortgages, banks) with 2,395 complaints.
- Construction/Home Improvement (remodelling, roofs and gutters, heating and cooling, plumbing) with 2,113 complaints.
- Telecommunications (cable and satellite TV, telemarketing, cell phones, phone service and repairs) with 2,031 complaints.
- Promotions/Schemes (phone scams, lottery scams, investment schemes, phishing) with 2,004 complaints.
- Used Auto Sales (as-is used cars, financing, advertising, warranties) with 1,728 complaints.
- Internet/Mail Order Products (internet and catalogue purchases, TV and radio advertising) with 1,071 complaints.
- Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision, engines, oil changes and tune-ups) with 656 complaints.
- New Auto Sales (financing, defects, advertising) with 629 complaints.
Anyone with consumer complaints can submit a complaint online or call one of the following hotlines:
Identity Theft Unit: 1-866-999-5630
Student Loan Helpline: 1-800-455-2456
Homeowner Helpline: 1-866-544-7151
Chicago Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-386-5438
Springfield Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0618
Carbondale Consumer Fraud Hotline: 1-800-243-0607
Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398