In the wake of recent data breaches at Target, Michael’s, Neimann Marcus and eBay, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan visited the Northern Illinois University campus for a May 29 forum with community leaders to address fraud and identity theft.
“This past year, we probably had about 20,000 consumer fraud reports, but that number represents only about one tenth of the actual fraud events,” Madigan told a crowd of approximately 30 law enforcement, civic and community leaders and media that had gathered at the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center.
Identity theft has been a persistent problem for Illinois consumers as technology has opened consumers up to more risk when they shop online and use their debit and credit cards at stores. In the last seven years, identity theft complaints have ranked among the top two complaints filed with Madigan’s office.
The roundtable discussion about security breaches and identity theft covered good data security practices, tips to guard against identity theft, actions that identity theft victims can take and resources available to the public through the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Attorney General staffers also discussed senior scams and other common financial scams and offered resources available to citizens through the AG’s office. Among the best tools available to consumers, however, is the transaction alert function offered by credit card companies.
“If you are at work and suddenly something pops up where clearly someone is spending several thousand dollars on buying a lovely flat screen TV, you can immediately call the number on the back of your card and you can make sure your company is aware that it’s something you did not authorize and clearly there’s fraud going on,” the attorney general said.
Madigan created the first-ever Illinois Identity Theft Hotline, providing Illinoisans who have been victimized by identity theft with one-on-one assistance as they work to report the crime to local law enforcement and financial institutions, repair their credit, and prevent future problems.
“There is a lot we can do as consumers to protect ourselves,” Madigan said. “It is happening every week, every day, and individuals are unaware until they need access to their credit.”
- Set up transaction alerts for debit and credit cards
- Carefully review bank and credit card statements
- Place a security freeze on your credit.
If identity fraud is suspected:
- Report it immediately to creditors
- Place a fraud alert on credit report
- File a police report
- Call the toll-free Illinois Identity Theft Hotline at: 1-866-999-5630.
For more information or to report suspicious activity, call the Office of the Illinois Attorney General at 312-814-3000 or visit www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.