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Theft-related unemployment fraud schemes continue to rise in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Employment Security is telling residents to be on “high alert” for phishing schemes that may be leading to identity theft involving unemployment systems across the country.

Fraudulent text messages, emails, and social media messages, posing as IDES and other state agencies and constitutional offices, are being sent to individuals in an attempt to phish for personally identifiable information and other data.

The events are part of organized attempt to defraud state unemployment insurance systems until the expiration of the federal unemployment programs on Sept. 4, 2021, the state office said.

Both claimants and the public at large are being told to remain vigilant.

The Federal Trade Commission has provided steps individuals should follow to recognize and avoid phishing schemes.  Individuals should also take steps to strengthen and protect online account information.  IDES claimants should maintain strong, unique passwords to their accounts, and never share personal account information with untrustworthy sources.

Since March 2020, IDES has shut down more than 1.7 million claims filed with the department in the names of identity theft victims.   Last week alone, the State of Illinois and IDES networks blocked nearly 450 million attempts to access the department’s benefit system, either to file a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim or to compromise an existing claimant account to redirect payment.

Illinois is among the states who have committed to administering the federal unemployment insurance programs until their expiration in September. These programs include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.  Fraudsters are targeting states that have not opted out of administering these programs early.

If you have been the victim of identity theft-related unemployment insurance fraud, visit the IDES fraud webpage for information about how to report the claim.

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