Protecting Consumers

The Attorney General is the state’s chief consumer advocate, and she works tirelessly to protect Illinois consumers. 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has taken on corporate giants and stood up to special interests in Illinois. She has fought utility companies that have unjustly overbilled customers and engaged in unfair business practices, recovering over a billion dollars for ratepayers.  When the Illinois Legislature permitted utility companies to use a new rate-setting process called Reverse-Auction that promised to result in Illinois consumers being overcharged for power, the Attorney General filed numerous lawsuits to end the deceitful practice. After winning a lawsuit against Com Ed, Attorney General Madigan negotiated the creation of a new power-buying agency that buys electricity in bulk. Because the Attorney General stood up to ComEd and Ameren, electricity bills for Illinois consumers dropped by more than $2.1 billion.

Attorney General Madigan also initiated a new law that strengthens and reforms the ethics rules of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) – the group that sets the energy prices that Illinois consumers pay for energy.  These ethic reforms protect consumers by prohibiting private meetings between the ICC Commissioners and utility companies. The new law also promotes energy efficiency and assists low-income families with utility bills.

Moreover, Lisa Madigan has been at the forefront of the battle to fight fraud by cell phone companies. She was one of the first attorneys general in the country to file suit against cell phone companies who were selling their clients’ phone records. Attorney General Madigan also testified before Congress about the threat to privacy posed by this practice. Additionally, she participated in the negotiation of an agreement with three major cell phone carriers to allow consumers to have a greater ability to terminate their contracts without penalty.

Attorney General Madigan has also advocated on both the state and federal level to ban the practice of "phone cramming," whereby phone companies allow third-party charges for services that consumers never requested.  She has filed several lawsuits against crammers and testified in front of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on the need to ban the practice.  Madigan also worked with the Illinois General Assembly to pass House Bill 5211, a statewide ban on all billing by a third-party company with limited exceptions for legitimate services.

Attorney General Madigan is working diligently to end the abusive and unfair practices of debt settlement operators who take advantage of Illinois residents in financial distress. Madigan has worked with State lawmakers to enact a new law to protect consumers from the abusive practices of the debt settlement industry. In most cases, these practices result in consumers owing more than their original credit card debt as a result of excessive upfront fees, increased months of missed payments to creditors, and added penalties on their credit reports. As a result of Lisa Madigan’s work on this issue, Illinois now has the toughest debt settlement law in the country. She has received national recognition from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for her groundbreaking work to protect consumers by tracking down abusive debt settlement companies and by promoting finical awareness and literacy.

Lisa Madigan has cracked down on the student loan debt industry, filing lawsuits against companies that prey on those struggling to pay off student loan debt, exposed fraudulent practices of student lenders, shut down predatory for-profit colleges and secured millions in relief for their students, launched a student debt loan helpline in Illinois to help borrowers understand their options and avoid student loan debt scammers and passed a Student Loan Bill of Rights in Illinois to better protect student borrowers and their families.

Madigan has also worked with the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation that would protect poor people from being jailed over unpaid debts.  Residents in roughly one-third of Illinois' counties face jail time when they fail to appear in court over a previously entered judgement for failure to paid a debt.  In many cases, debtors were unaware of the judgements entered because notices were mailed to incorrect or out-dated addresses.  Madigan's legislation would prevent poor, older, and unemployed people from being illegally or unfairly jailed.

Finally, with Attorney General Lisa Madigan at the helm, Illinois has also been among the most proactive states in responding to identity theft. Illinois has enacted laws giving victims of identity theft the option of placing a freeze on their credit reports, requiring data collectors to notify consumers in the event that the security of their personal information has been breached and mandating police to take reports of identity theft from victims. Attorney General Madigan’s Identity Theft Hotline (1-866-999-5630), the first of its kind in the nation, has helped over 44,000 identity theft victims to remove over $29 million in fraudulent charges from their credit.

Whether through investigations, litigation or legislation, Attorney General Madigan has fought for consumers and against fraudulent business practices across the State.

IssuesMichelle Young