Identity Theft Prevention Seminar Draws Big Crowd

State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) hosted a free seminar for residents to learn how to protect themselves from identity theft on November 14. A number of high profile data breaches have recently struck companies like Equifax, potentially exposing the personal information of millions of Americans to criminal theft. This reality made it increasingly important for residents to know how to protect their personal information.

At the seminar, Berenice Martinez from the Illinois Attorney General’s office showed residents how to safeguard their credit card, social security and other sensitive information to prevent it from falling into the hands of criminals. Handouts, legislative brochures and refreshments were also be provided.

If you were unable to attend the seminar, but would like a copy of printed materials to help you protect your personal information, please call Rep. Jesiel's office at (847) 395-8000. You can also visit the Attorney General's consumer protection website to access additional information, print guides or contact the office for assistance, Click Here.

Due to the recent Equifax security breach, the Attorney General's office has worked with the company to ensure Illinois residents can protect themselves and put together a series of recommendations for consumers. The office also operates a free hotline to assist residents at anytime: 1 (866) 999-5630. 

Information that may been breached in the Equifax breach includes social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach. Some residents may have only had their name or phone number accessed, but checking to see if your information was affected is still important for everyone.

The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach:

Whether you were affected or not, you can sign-up for a year of free identity theft protection. This service is administered by a third party, not Equifax, no credit card information is required and you will not be charged anything when the year of protection ends.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the security breach, and called on Equifax to provide free credit freezes to all Illinois residents in the wake of the breach. She urges Illinois residents to take the Equifax breach seriously and take steps to protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft:
  • Seriously consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;
  • Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don't open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.
With questions on the data breach, you can contact Equifax at 866-447-7559, or the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630.

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