It’s been 15 months of continued hits for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, from issues at the call center to filing fake claims.
So far, the head of IDES says the state has stopped about 1.7 million fake claims. Add to that the millions of times scammers are trying to tap into the computer system.
Now comes the story of Andrea Graham. She thought someone’s attempt to file a fake claim in May of 2020 in her name had been solved – until she tried to file her taxes.
“And I got a letter from the comptroller indicating, ‘Yeah, you owe the state money. We are not paying you,’” she said. “They said (I owe) over $10,000 because of the unemployment benefits that were paid to me.”
But Graham never received any unemployment benefits. Without her even knowing it, someone filed a claim in her name.
While it all gets sorted out – her $827 tax return is on hold.
Like a lot of people, Graham learned about the problem when she received a 1099G form. It details that unemployment money was paid out.
IDES estimates that about 97,000 people have called their offices with questions about that form for lots of different reasons including unemployment claims they never made.
While the questions roll in , people like Terry Iverson, the owner of a small machine tool distributor, has received mail from IDES about fake claims, not only in his name but in the names of people who never even worked for him.
“To give you an idea, we’re a small company. We have 13 people and we have 100 letter claims,” he said.
The story doesn’t end there.
The employment security agency is now on high alert for what may be an onslaught of more fake unemployment claims.
There are at least 25 states that will stop paying claims before the September deadline. Illinois is not one of them, which means Illinois is once again a target for scammers.