Lisa Madigan: Identity thieves targeting children in Illinois
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plans to appear before Congress on Wednesday to declare that identity theft is a major problem in the state, with some culprits targeting children because of their clean credit histories.
Since 2010, her office has helped nearly 350 children victimized by identity theft, she said in a prepared statement that was posted online Tuesday, the day before she is to appear at a House hearing. “We have helped shut down hundreds of fraudulent accounts, which were opened using the identities of children,” she said.
Madigan said her office, along with the Connecticut attorney general’s office, is leading a multi-state investigation into data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels stores.
Identity thieves do more than make unauthorized purchases with stolen data, Madigan said in the statement. They exploit data to open fake utility accounts, obtain prescription drugs and medical treatment and receive government benefits, she said.
Madigan said her office has received 31,100 complaints about identity theft since 2006, making it the No. 1 or No. 2 source of complaints in that period.
In her statement, Madigan said she could not comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation. But in the past, she said, her office has found cases in which companies failed to encrypt consumer data; failed to install updated security patches for software; and needlessly stored sensitive consumer data “not necessary for any business purpose.”
She urged lawmakers to give a federal agency the authority to probe large, sophisticated data breaches just like the National Transportation Safety Board investigates aviation accidents.
Madigan said her office created an Identity Theft Unit and hotline in 2006. The phone number for illinois callers is 1-866-999-5630. Callers outside of Illinois may call Madigan’s office at 312-814-3000, according to Natalie Bauer, Madigan’s spokeswoman.
Madigan is among witnesses who are to testify Wednesday before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The hearing, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Chicago time, may be viewed on the Web by following links at www.energycommerce.house.gov/hearings.