Madigan warns ISU about identity theft

Attorney State General Lisa Madigan made an appearance at Illinois State University on Aug. 14 to discuss the long-term effects of identity theft.

Madigan addressed McLean County police, social workers and other public officials at ISU’s Alumni Center.

Identity theft has been turning into more of an issue than ever. According to The Pantagraph, the attorney general’s office gets nearly 200,000 calls from people dealing with consumer fraud each year.

Madigan said a great number of these people are dealing with the results of identity theft, which continues to grow.

Identity theft is not the only scam people need to be wary of, however. Madigan and her staff have also been educating people on the similar topics of security breaches, financial scams and the effects of consumer fraud.

“We cover a variety of consumer fraud-related topics at the roundtables, but these are the two big issues currently that the attorney general has been talking about,” Maura Possley, press secretary for Lisa Madigan, said.

While at ISU, Madigan advised her audience of three simple things they can do to ensure their safety and lower their chances of identity theft.

First, using transaction alerts for both debit and credit cards allows people to be aware of when their card is being used. Madigan pointed out that debit cards are known to not have as many protections as credit cards against scams, since scammers will have direct access to the card holder’s money.

Another precaution people should take includes ensuring their credit card statements are correct. Madigan recommended placing a security freeze on credit, which she described as a good protection against identity theft.

Madigan’s staff has found data breaches in particular have been growing steadily throughout the past 10 years, affecting millions of Americans and causing billions of dollars of damage to the country’s economy.

“We have seen a 1600 percent increase in data breach complaints to the office, and the attorney general testified earlier this year in Congress on the growing epidemic of breaches nationwide,” Possley said.

Since 2005, more than 4,000 data breaches throughout the country and 733 million records have been damaged.

Keeping with the theme of financial scams, Madigan’s staff talked about student loan scams. Madigan warned of corrupt businesses that intentionally try to take advantage of current and former students who are having trouble with their loans.

In an effort to combat the student loan scams, Madigan is working to ensure the U.S. is scrutinizing and implementing consumer protection damages in higher education.

“[Madigan] also filed lawsuits last month against a new industry of scam operations that are targeting current and former students who are struggling with student loan debt,” Possley said.

It is important to Madigan that students are aware of the dangers of student loan debt and to keep them informed as to what their options are to protect themselves and their finances.

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