Department of Employment Security takes steps to combat unemployment fraud

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IDFPR partnership to assist in identifying and recovering fraudulent payments

Information provided by the Illinois Department of Employment Security

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 18, 2020) – The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has partnered with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to work with financial institutions in detecting and combating unemployment fraud. Unemployment fraud can often be identified early on at the financial institutional level. Engaging financial institutions as a resource has been a proven approach in identifying fraudulent actors and detecting and recovering improper payments.

Warning signs

Financial institutions should be on the lookout for the following suspicious activities to assist IDES in combating unemployment fraud:

  • New account with sudden multiple deposit transactions from state unemployment insurance programs
  • Name and/or data on the account does not match the name and/or data with ACH transaction(s)
  • Account holder is receiving unemployment insurance transactions from a state(s) in which they do not reside
  • Account holder is receiving multiple unemployment insurance transactions from multiple states
  • Same device is accessing multiple accounts
  • Point of sale transactions are inconsistent with the address on the account

Last month, IDES announced it was working with local and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate, pursue, and prosecute the widespread unemployment fraud scheme being conducted nationwide, impacting each state’s federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs, implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What to do if you receive unemployment materials you have not applied for

An individual who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a debit card or an unemployment insurance (UI) finding letter in the mail has most likely been the target of fraud. An individual’s personal identifying information is being used by fraudsters to file an unemployment claim is likely due to a prior cyber hack or data breach, such as the Equifax breach. It is imperative that individuals take the following steps if they have not filed an unemployment claim and have erroneously received an unemployment debit card or UI finding letter in the mail:

  • Immediately report the claim online or call IDES at 800.814.0513 and when prompted:
    • Select the English or Spanish language option
    • Selection option 1 for claimants
    • Selection option 5 to report identity theft
  • Do not activate the debit card that was mailed to you.
  • Have your credit report checked for possible suspicious activity and post a fraud alert.
  • Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website to learn helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.

The increase in the fraudulent unemployment claims is attributed primarily to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Under the ambiguous federal guidelines, which were developed in haste because of the urgency of the pandemic and issued to every state without a uniform method of implementation, the potential for fraud within the system is abundant. Most recent data show there to be approximately 107,000 fraudulent claims affecting the PUA system since its launch on May 11, with just 14,500 fraudulent claims affecting the regular unemployment system since March 1.

If you need to file an unemployment claim, more information and the application can be found at illinois.gov/ides.