Top 2014 Consumer Complaints Announced

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ILLINOIS - Illinois' Attorney General, Lisa Madigan outlined the top consumer complaints from residents across the state on Monday.

Madigan said, consumer debt is the winning complaint for 2014 and within that people complained about credit card debt. Last year, 3,655 people complained about consumer debt.

For those who are financially strapped, there are ways to get out debt free.

"It's not free money. I think people get into that habit of thinking that they don't have to pay off their balance every month and it's kind of a free money type deal," said Chris Phillips the VP of Marketing at Lincoln Land Credit Union in Decatur.

Phillips said, credit cards are good for building credit, for an emergency, travel and online purchases. However, you have to be financially responsible, or else high interest rates can damage your financial future.

"A good rate would be around 10 to 11 to 12 percent fixed rates and make sure you're paying on time," Phillips added.

Currently, the average credit card fixed interest rate is almost 16 percent. Therefore, if you find yourself in a bind and can't get out anytime soon it might be helpful to meet with a financial counselor and make a plan to get out of debt.

“I think you don't want to be spending money you don't have. So you have to stop using the credit cards. The second thing is really make a budget and that's going to help you know where your money is going and what money you have to put toward the credit card debt," Phillips said.

Madigan's office received about 21,800 complaints last year. After consumer debt, identity theft came in a close second. Since identity theft remains such major concern for many, Madigan also unveiled a legislative initiative proposing to strengthen the state's data breach notification law.

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