Consumer debt and identity theft back on annual complaints list

The annual consumer complaints report released Monday by Attorney General Lisa Madigan confirmed a trend among some Illinois consumers who still do not know how to protect themselves from consumer debt and identity-theft crimes, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

With 2,783 complaints out of the nearly 24,000 received in 2016, consumer debt complaints including mortgages, collection agencies and banks took the first spot of the list; that group of complaints has remained on top since 2008.

Identity theft occupied the second place for the ninth consecutive year, with 2,391 complaints.

Education-related complaints occupy spot number six — one higher than last year — with 1,691 complaints.

“My office continues to see an increase in education complaints, including loan servicers that don’t provide accurate assistance and for-profit schools that provide worthless degrees,” Madigan said. “I remain committed to seeking relief for students and holding schools and loan servicers that commit fraud accountable.”

“Reforms are absolutely necessary,” Madigan said. “There are changes that need to be made in terms of our laws and our regulations.”

Some of the necessary reforms for borrowers include alerting them of their financial rights.

Top categories of consumer complaints from 2016:

  • Consumer Debt (mortgages, collection agencies, banks) 2, 783 complaints
  • Identity Theft (government document fraud, credit cards, utilities, data breaches) 2,391 complaints
  • Promotions/Schemes (phone scams, investment schemes, lottery scams, phishing) 2,387 complaints
  • Construction/Home Improvement (remodeling, roofs and gutters, heating and cooling, plumbing) 2,094 complaints
  • Telecommunications (telemarketing, cable and satellite TV, phone service and repairs, cell phones) 1,851 complaints
  • Education (for-profit schools, student loan debt, loan counseling) 1,691 complaints
  • Used Auto Sales/Motor Vehicles (as-is used cars, financing, warranties) 1,648 complaints
  • Internet/Mail Order Products (Internet and catalog purchases, TV and radio advertising) 955 complaints
  • Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision, engines, oil changes and tune-ups) 677 complaints
  • New Auto Sales/Motor Vehicles (financing, defects, advertising) 668 complaints