Older Illinoisans targeted in unemployment debit card scheme

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A major fraud scheme is happening right now in Illinois after older residents have been getting unemployment cards, but not filing.

Authorities said fraudsters are targeting people who are retired and not applying for unemployment at all.

Some have been getting IDES debit cards sent to them despite not applying for benefits.

The cards are loaded with thousands of dollars, paid by Illinois taxpayers.

Julie Gagliardotto, 63, got one of the cards in the mail and immediately knew it was fishy.

“I called the fraud line at IDES and got a person who did confirm and verify that someone had filed for claims, for unemployment benefits, with my personal information and had been receiving them,” Gagliardotto said.

They used Gagliardotto’s social security number, date of birth, address and name.

The family of Marty Byrnes had the same thing happen to them.

“So many people are trying to get unemployment and they are not able to receive any checks,” Byrnes said. “And here, I’ve got one.”

Financial expert Terry Savage said the pandemic has suddenly provided a financial crime of opportunity.

Trying to get through to IDES to report the fraud is tough. From March 1 to July 1, IDES received more than 78 million calls. Less than 1% of them were answered.

They took our info,” Byrnes said. “Nobody called us back.”

Terry Savage said if you receive a card in the mail, following these steps.

  • Do not activate the card.
  • Contact the issuing bank.
  • Freeze your credit reports.
  • Check your bank balances frequently.

IDES said they are aware of the fraud scheme.

If someone believes unemployment fraud is being committed, you’re encouraged to contact IDES at 800.814.0513 or 877.566.6230 or submit an allegation online here.

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