Be on the Lookout for Unemployment Fraud in Illinois

You and your employees may become victims of unemployment fraud. The past several weeks have seen a huge increase in unemployment fraud in the State of Illinois and elsewhere. Much of the fraudulent activity arises out of the federal government’s implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (“PUA”) in May of 2020. Since the launch of the PUA Program, over 107,000 fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed on behalf of unknowing victims, many in the State of Illinois.

Here’s how the scam has been operating:

A victim of the scam in Illinois will receive a letter from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”) confirming that the recipient’s unemployment benefits have been approved. The problem, however, is that the individual has not applied for unemployment. The letter will either enclose a debit card that deposits funds into a fraudulent account when used or will advise the recipient that funds are being direct deposited into a bank account in that person’s name. The account, however, was set up by the scammers, who then siphon the ill-gotten gains from the bogus bank account. The IDES is advising recipients not to activate and, instead, destroy the debit card. Additionally, if the individual receives such a notice and that the recipient of the notice did not apply for unemployment benefits, the following important steps need to be taken immediately. The individual should:

  1. Contact IDES at the telephone number listed on the notice. Due to increased volume, IDES will likely take days or even weeks to return the call. The victim can also go to the IDES website (see the link below) and complete a contact form.
  2. Contact one of the three credit agencies (Experian, Equifax or Transunion) through their websites and report the fraudulent activity.
  3. Call the local police and file a police report.
  4. Tell the employer identified on the notice as the “last employer” that they will likely be receiving a Notice from IDES that the victim has applied for unemployment benefits.
  5. Notify the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov to report the identity theft.
  6. If they don’t already have one, obtain a pin from the IRS. This will ensure no one can file a fraudulent tax return on the victim’s behalf. Remember, the fraudster has the victim’s social security number.

The victim needs to make sure that he or she has kept a good paper trail of all of the steps taken. If you or one of your employees believes they’re a victim of unemployment fraud, they may also consult the following website:

https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Reporting_Unemployment_Insurance_Fraud.aspx

If you have any questions, please contact your Levin Ginsburg attorney.

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