By Ted Cox
The state attorney general has issued a formal consumer alert over the identity-theft scam afflicting unemployment systems across the nation.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a consumer alert Monday for those who’ve seen unemployment announcements and even debit cards turn up in the mail without ever filing for benefits.
“People should be on the lookout for a letter approving them for unemployment benefits they never requested because it likely means that an identity thief applied for benefits using their name and Social Security number,” Raoul said. “I strongly encourage people to visit the attorney general’s website or call my office’s toll-free hotline for help protecting themselves from identity theft.”
Gov. Pritzker talked about the national scam last week, saying it was affecting expanded federal jobless benefits for independent contractors and so-called gig workers ineligible for conventional unemployment insurance as they don’t have salaried positions.
“The national program was poorly designed and susceptible to fraud,” he said, calling it a “systemwide failure.” Pritzker advised anyone who has received a card or an Illinois Department of Employment Security letter without enrolling for benefits to call the department at (800) 814-0503.
Raoul’s office added an Identity Theft Hotline Monday at (866) 999-5630.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was reportedly more susceptible to fraud because it doesn’t ask for applicants to name an employer.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported skyrocketing numbers of people applying for those benefits last week in Illinois, although it’s unclear how many of those applications were phony.
It’s also unclear how the scam artists are obtaining the money from debit cards that go to the actual person whose name is being used to file for them, but Raoul followed Pritzker and IDES in saying it suggests that one’s identity and critical financial information have already been compromised.
Raoul advised anyone receiving such a debit card or IDES statement letter to also monitor credit reports, and perhaps request a fraud alert or a freeze on the credit report. Illinoisans should be vigilant and review financial accounts and consider placing transaction alerts on bank accounts and credit cards.
July 27, 2020 at 03:44PM