Identity Theft Leads Consumer Complaints
Kukec, Anna Marie, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Anna Marie Kukec Daily Herald Business Writer
Identify theft and other money-related complaints flooded the Illinois attorney general's office last year, which continued an upward trend of consumers seeking help in an economic downturn, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Thursday.
The agency received 32,577 consumer complaints in 2007, including 6,388 on identity theft matters, up 20 percent. The office received 5,237 complaints on identify theft in 2006.
"We attributed a lot of these complaints to the economic climate," Madigan said during an interview.
Money-related cases - complaints involving credit cards, financial institutions, mortgage companies and identify theft - have peaked in the last couple of years, she said.
"When you look at the economy, this isn't a surprise," Madigan said. "We're seeing a higher volume of complaints that relate to people's pocketbooks and good name."
Consumers have become more aware, but still need education when dealing with complex issues, such as signing a mortgage or other credit-related contract, she said.
More complaints coming into the office also are attributed to the Identify Theft Hotline she started about two years ago. It has a dedicated staff of advocates and attorneys providing direct assistance to victims. The toll-free number is (866) 999-5630. …