Washington needs to take more steps to help states to uncover and fight identity theft, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told members of Congress in a hearing Wednesday. Testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Madigan described identity theft as a pressing issue in Illinois, with some culprits targeting children because of their clean credit histories.
Since 2010 Madigan’s office has helped nearly 350 children victimized by identity theft, she said in a prepared statement posted online. “We have helped shut down hundreds of fraudulent accounts, which were opened using the identities of children,” she said.
Madigan called on Congress to pass “data security legislation,” urging it to give identity theft the same attention it gives to other critical private sector areas: “Congress should give an agency the responsibility and authority to investigate large, sophisticated data breaches in a similar manner that the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] conducts investigations of aviation accidents,” Madigan 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.
The lack of appropriate oversight, she said, has brought her office to “repeatedly [find] instances where companies failed to take basic steps to protect consumer data. The notion that companies are already doing everything they can to prevent data breaches is false.”
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.
Madigan said her office created the first ever 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.