murphy 03042020CM0991DES PLAINES – To comfort individuals who may be concerned about identity theft after recent reports of unemployment fraud, State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) assures Illinoisans the Illinois Department of Employment Security is aggressively cracking down on fraudsters filing false claims and encourages victims to file a report.

“This problem isn’t just affecting a few people—nationwide, scammers are using the uncertainty of the pandemic to take advantage of vulnerable people,” said Murphy. “If you believe you’ve been the victim of fraud, report it immediately. With your help, we can hold these scammers accountable.”

Last week, reports surfaced of individuals receiving KeyBank debit cards and unemployment letters in the mail, despite never having applied for benefits. According to IDES, people who received these erroneous mailings may be targets of fraud.  

After receiving these reports, IDES uncovered and launched an investigation into a nationwide fraud scheme targeting applicants to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. IDES said ambiguous federal guidelines—developed hastily to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic—leave PUA claimants open to attack. IDES maintains this scheme is not connected to the PUA program access issue experienced in May.

A dedicated team of staffers is now working directly with individuals whose identities are being used or have possibly been stolen. The department is also working with local and federal law enforcement authorities to pursue and prosecute those committing fraud.

Individuals who have received debit cards in the mail without applying for benefits should call IDES immediately at 1-800-814-0513 to report identity theft. Do not activate the debit card.

Victims of fraud are also encouraged to check their credit reports for possible suspicious activity, post a fraud alert and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.