Following is a general notice and reminder to all University of Illinois System faculty and staff to be aware of identity theft-related unemployment fraud and phishing schemes.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) website continues to note that they are aware of phishing schemes targeting Illinoisans. Additionally, the University of Illinois System has recently seen an increase in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. Please be careful and protect your personal information.
University is Actively Working to Stop False Claims
The University of Illinois System is actively working to help prevent fraudulent unemployment claims. All eligibility decisions for unemployment benefits are made solely by IDES. Each HR office reviews reports from IDES and flags any current, actively working employees, and responds back to IDES that those should be investigated as identity theft.
Additionally, your HR office will contact you if you are actively working and your name appears on a report of unemployment claims, so that you can take steps to report the fraud and protect your credit. However, not all fraudulent claims will appear on our reports, due to bad actors using false names or addresses with stolen Social Security Numbers. Please be sure to report suspected fraud to IDES if you experience any of the signs listed below, even if your HR office has not contacted you.
Signs of Unemployment Insurance Identity Theft
IDES states that your personal information may have been used to file a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim if:
- You receive a debit card, paper check, or an unemployment insurance letter (UI Finding) and have not filed a claim for benefits.
- You are notified by your employer that a claim for benefits has been filed when you still work for that employer.
- You attempt to file a claim online and one already exists.
- You receive IRS correspondence regarding unreported UI benefits.
- You receive notice of a state or federal tax offset.
If you know or suspect that you are a victim of a fraudulent unemployment claim:
If you are experiencing unemployment-related fraud, it is very likely due to identity theft. Please take the steps noted above to secure and protect your identity and credit, just as you would with any other type of identity theft. The rise in unemployment fraud has been attributed to the high volume of personal information stolen during high-profile data breaches from large companies, as well as to some COVID-related unemployment programs that attempt to distribute unemployment funds more quickly.
How to Spot Phishing Scams
Phishing is a type of scam in which a bad actor tries to get you to enter your sensitive personal information into a website that looks like one you trust. Be on alert for phishing schemes attempting to impersonate and exploit IDES or other state agencies. IDES will never send a text message seeking your personal information, such as your social security number or driver’s license number.
Be cautious and wary of text messages and emails that use urgent language, state you have a claim (for which you did not apply), or direct you to website URLs that you do not recognize. If you are unsure whether a message is legitimate or not, contact the sending organization through a known, verified method to confirm it. Delete phishing email or text messages, do not respond or click links. Also see the Federal Trade Commission: How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams