- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The number of identity theft complaints received by the Illinois attorney general’s office climbed 18 percent last year, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Tuesday.

Madigan said her office received about 3,000 complaints in 2013, up from about 2,500 the year before. They were part of more than 20,500 complaints submitted to the office last year.

A major increase in complaints came from reports of data breaches, which rose 1,600 percent to 576 from 33 the previous year.

Madigan attributes that increase in part to hackers who stole millions of consumers’ data from Target Corp., which prompted many consumers to find fraudulent charges on their bank accounts and credit cards.

“Identity theft is perhaps the most damaging financial scam that affects people today,” Madigan said in the statement. “The harm being done to consumers is too great to allow these breaches to continue without a concerted effort by both the government and the private sector to stop them from happening.”

In 2013, Madigan said her office received about 4,300 complaints involving consumer debt an almost 1,900 complaints about telecommunications services.

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