IDES Unemployment Insurance Fraud Alert
In an official press release last week, the Illinois Department of Employment Security issued a statement acknowledging “a widespread fraud scheme that is being conducted nationwide, impacting each state’s federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs, implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”. Numerous reports have been received of individuals receiving unemployment insurance funds, despite never having filed for unemployment insurance benefits.
The PUA program is a 100% federally funded program providing up to 39 weeks of benefits to claimants not traditionally covered by a state’s regular unemployment insurance program, including self-employed and sole proprietors. The perpetrators of this scheme are utilizing stolen individual personal information to file fraudulent claims, then masquerading as a government office official to contact the victim explaining the funds were issued in error. When the individual returns the funds, they are actually forwarding funds to the fraudsters and may never realize they have been the victim.
IDES is diligently investigating the situation to determine the cause and what further action may need to be taken. One theory regarding victims that have been targeted, is that the personal identifying information being fraudulently used has been acquired in a prior cyber hack or data breach, leaving individuals and sole proprietors alike venerable to potential fraud. It is crucial that we are all diligent with protecting our information and verify our records for accuracy during this time of heightened fraudulent activity. Remember to never give your personal identifying information, such as address, Social Security Number, birthday, or financial account information over the phone, email, or online unless it is to a verified source.
If you have received a letter regarding an unemployment insurance finding or a debit card in the mail, and have not filed for benefits, you may have been a target of fraud. If you feel you have been a victim in this case, it is imperative that you report it to the IDES immediately by completing the following steps:
▪ Immediately call IDES at 800.814.0513 and when prompted:
o Select the English or Spanish language option
o Selection option 1 for claimants
o 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.
Murphy-Wall State Bank and Trust Company is an independent bank that traces roots back to 1874. It serves Pinckneyville, Murphysboro, Elkville, Carterville, and Marion, along with Perry, Jackson and Williamson Counties and Southern Illinois with a variety of banking services. Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender. Learn more at murphywall.com. Like them on Facebook.