Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul says his office is ramping up efforts to catch people using identity theft to get unemployment benefits.
Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Kristin Richards says her department has been dealing with countless numbers of calls of people getting false letters in the mail for unemployment benefits or calls about identity thieves using someone’s information to get fraudulent benefits. She says it’s a problem the entire country is currently facing.
The fraud has gotten so bad that Raoul says he was the victim of someone using his identity to try and get benefits from IDES: “My office has received nearly 850 written consumers complaints and approximately 4,000 calls to our hotlines about unemployment insurance fraud. Unfortunately, I, myself, can attest that anyone can be targeted by these scammers because I, myself, received a phony debit card in the mail.”
Raoul gave tips to protect yourself from the potential IDES scams: “These steps including monitoring your credit report. You can check your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, for free once per week through April 2021 by visiting annualcreditreport.com. You should consider requesting a fraud alert by contacting one of the three nation-wide credit bureaus. This places a flag on your credit reports for one year which means potential credit grantors receive an alert telling them to request additional identification from someone applying for credit using your name. You should also consider putting a freeze on your credit report which means that potential credit grantors will not be able to see your credit report unless you prove to them that you are who you claim you are.”
Raoul says in order to place a credit freeze, an individual must contact all 3 major credit reporting agencies. Raoul says more information on getting the request completed can be found at illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.
IDES also has steps of reporting the fraud and stopping benefits. Richards says that if the fraud is reported, the benefits for the fraudster stop within 24-48 hours.