Identity theft continues to be a pervasive problem for the state's consumers, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told business and government leaders during a visit to Belleville on Tuesday.
Madigan held a consumer fraud seminar at Southwestern Illinois College and then spoke at a meeting of the Belleville Rotary Club.
Madigan said her office gets about 200,000 consumer-fraud complaints per year. Identity theft became the top complaint in 2006, and it continues to be "our fastest-growing consumer-fraud complaint category."
She said high-profile cases of data breaches, such as the one last year involving the retailer Target, have brought identity theft "roaring back" among consumers' concerns. She said local cases of data breaches involving hospitals and grocery stores also raise consumers' concerns.
"Unfortunately, it is a situation that nobody can afford to ignore any longer," Madigan said.
She offered three main suggestions for protecting consumer data:
* Set up transaction alerts for your debit and credit cards.
* Read your bank and credit card statements.
* Get a copy of your credit report.
Madigan said most data breaches are due to companies asking consumers for more information than is necessary, companies not adequately protecting information or companies holding into information too long.
Madigan, a Democrat who was first elected to the office in 2002, is up for re-election in November. Her opponent, Republican Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, a former military lawyer, says Madigan hasn't done enough to fight corruption in government.
Madigan said government corruption is handled by county and federal prosecutors. She said the attorney general's job is consumer protection.