CHICAGO – Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Services is beginning to unravel the number of fraudulent unemployment claims made in Illinois.
Kristin Richards took the position of Acting Director for IDES in August and was immediately made aware of the problem.
Since March, IDES has been able to stop 962,000 false unemployment claims. She thinks fraudsters saw an opportunity through the PUA or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program used for the self-employed.
“This new program relied on later verification of wages in order to determine eligibility, but at the outset it created a very attractive environment for fraudsters because there is no employer wage base against which to verify an individual claim,” Richards said.
Other states have been hit with the same scheme.
Next week, residents who have filed for unemployment will begin to receive 1099 G forms. The form may serve as a red flag for people who had no idea they were the victim of identity theft.
“If an individual receives a form in the mail, it may be an indication that they are a victim of identity theft,” Richards said.
Additional information on 1099-G forms is available at ides.illinois.gov/1099G