Illinois’ unemployment rate is currently at 7.6%, more than double what it was at this time in 2020. With so many more unemployment claims being filed, some are trying to take advantage by filing fraudulent claims.
“With unemployment being a major issue across the country and across the state, I think criminals are looking for new avenues, new ways to exploit the situation, as they do with any new situation,” said Commander Michaus Williams, Public Information Officer with the Naperville Police Department. “With the unemployment benefits being doled out to so many who need it, people are just looking for an avenue to get in there and exploit it.”
Identity Theft Up Across State
According to Williams, identity theft reports are up across the state and Naperville is no exception. The NPD is getting between 30-50 identity theft reports every day and have at least 86% more reports compared to this time last year. He said he doesn’t expect them to decrease until the unemployment rate goes down.
“My first hope is that the economy gets back right and more people are back at work and don’t need the unemployment benefits,” said Commander Williams. “I think when they don’t need the unemployment benefits that crime is actually going to go down because not so many people are going to be seeking it and it’s not going to be available to people.”
What to Do If You’re a Victim of Unemployment Fraud
If you’ve been a victim of unemployment fraud, there are two steps you need to take. First, file a police report, which Naperville residents can do online at the city’s website. Williams said to make sure your date of birth and home address are included in the report, or else it will get rejected.
Second, contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security and file an online report with them. You should also inform your employer so that they are aware of the situation.
Williams said, the NPD is still investigating how fraudsters are obtaining the data, but their best guess is that it’s via data breaches rather than phishing scams. However, residents should be aware of both of these avenues and do their best to protect their identity.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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