For the first time in about a decade, identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints filed to the Illinois Attorney General’s office in 2017.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she thinks a major national breach might have been the cause for the surge in complaints.
“I think one of the main reasons for that was the really massive Equifax breach that impacted nearly 150 million people across the United States,” Madigan said.
Madigan said more than 2,500 residents filed complaints in 2017. She said most identity thefts involved unauthorized usage of credit cards through cyberattacks, but also could be people the victim knows.
“The best thing that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, it would be to put a credit freeze on your credit report; and there are three major credit reporting bureaus in this country,” Madigan said.
Madigan also suggested getting a free credit report, which each American is entitled to, and staggering them to once every four months with the major credit bureaus.
“And that will give you an opportunity to pretty quickly call and contact a credit reporting agency and have that either explained or cleaned up,” Madigan said.
Madigan said the Attorney General’s office has a hotline for people who are victims of identity theft. The hotline number is 1-866-999-5630. You can also go to the attorney general’s website.
“So I have real-life humans who answer the phone during the day and can answer your questions if you are concerned about what you should do, or if you become a victim of identity theft and you need help cleaning up your credit,” Madigan said.
Madigan said she is supporting a bill that would remove the charge associated with putting a freeze on a credit report.