IDES Fraud Alert
Identity theft presents a challenge to businesses, organizations, and governments, including state unemployment departments. The State of Illinois is no exception.
Recently, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) found itself battling widespread unemployment fraud, due to the increase in unemployment claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic environment. IDES integrity measures have stopped over 350,000 fraudulent claims since March 2020, however, individuals still need to be vigilant to protect their identities.
In this type of fraud, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number to file an unemployment claim in someone else’s name. This action can affect an individual in numerous ways and have a major impact on the victim’s peace of mind. Here is a summary of how this type of fraud operates and what to do if it happens to you.
How Do I Recognize Unemployment Insurance Theft?
You are a victim of unemployment insurance identity theft, if:
You unexpectedly receive a debit card or an unemployment insurance letter (UI finding). However, you did not file for benefits.
You are notified by your current employer that a claim was filed in your name. However, you are still employed.
You are notified a claim already exists when you attempt to file a valid one.
If you receive a debit card, the fraudster will attempt to change the form of benefit payment from the card to direct deposit into an account they control.
Do I owe money if I’m a victim of unemployment insurance identity theft?
Rest assured, you would not owe any money as a result of a fraudulent claim.
What steps can I take to limit my exposure?
Report the fraud immediately to IDES. Report it with IDES at www2.illinois.gov or call 1-800-814-0513 and request a callback. Be patient – they will call back within a few days and take your information.
Do not activate the debit card. If you did not file for unemployment benefits getting a debit card or a UI finding letter is a red flag for suspicious activity.
Call your local police department. See if you can file a police report.
Request your FREE credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review the reports in detail for any activity you do not recognize.
Watch for letters from banks that you do not do business with. Close any accounts that have been opened fraudulently.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Report the complaint at identitytheft.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).
If you receive a Form 1099-G from the government reporting unemployment benefits, do not throw it away. Contact IDES and request a revised form.
Place a fraud alert on your credit profile. You can place alerts on your credit profile at:
Equifax - www.equifax.com or 800-525-6285
Experian - www.experian.com or 888-397-3742
TransUnion - www.transunion.com or 800-680-7289
Additional Steps for Victims of Tax-Related Identity Theft
What steps can I take if my SSN has been compromised and I know or suspect I might be a victim of tax-related identity theft?
Voluntarily opt into the Identity Protection PIN program with the Internal Revenue Service. Visit www.irs.gov and search for “IP PIN” on their website.
Prepare IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if applicable. ECS Financial Services can prepare those forms for you.
Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return. ECS Financial Services may instruct you to do so by paper, under some circumstances.
How Do I Protect Myself From Identity Theft?
Don’t carry documents with sensitive information, such as your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
Protect your financial information. Use two-factor authorization and strong secure passwords.
Check your credit report regularly. Monitor if there is any suspicious activity.
Review your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually. You can learn more about how to get your personal social security statement on the Social Security Administration website.
Secure personal information in your home. Keep documents with PII (personally identifiable information) in a locked secure location and regularly shred items you no longer need.
Protect your personal computers. Use firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, and update security patches and your passwords for Internet accounts.
Don’t give out personal or sensitive information. Avoid giving out sensitive information over the phone, through the mail, or on the internet, unless you initiated the contact or you are sure you know whom you are dealing with.
If you take steps to protect your information, you will reduce the risk of identity theft. However, if it becomes necessary, we are here to help you through the entire process and restore your peace of mind.
About the Author - ECS Financial Services Manager, Karen Tworek is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She joined ECS Financial Services in 2014 through a company merger. She graduated from Roosevelt University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Her areas of expertise include financial statement compilations, reviews and audits, ERISA audits, and business and personal tax preparation. She has two daughters, two dogs, and one horse, which keep her busy. In her spare time, she enjoys attending all kinds of music concerts and spending time at her cottage in Wisconsin.