Illinois unemployment scams surge as enhanced benefits near end, IDES says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois' unemployment agency says there's a new surge of scams trying to get your personal information.

With only 10 weeks of pandemic unemployment payments left, fraudsters are making a cash grab. But they are counting on you to click on suspicious links.

"Nefarious emails, text messages, social media accounts for imposters, some of whom are posing as the Illinois Department of Employment Security other state agencies or constitutional offices, they're reaching people and they're including messages like, share your information or download this data, this is all coming from bad actors that are attempting to access personally identifying information, and potentially file for unemployment benefits, or do something else and in victim's name," said Kristin Richards, acting director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Texts including phishing links were sent by a vigilant viewer to the I-Team just today. IDES confirmed they are fraudulent as they do not send out texts. Phishing links could fool you into giving up personal info -or they could install malware.

Richards said pandemic-related federal unemployment programs expire September 4, so fraudsters want to cash in before it's over.

"Last week alone and we stopped 450 million hits to the state network, all from bad actors that were attempting to access our benefit system," she said. "We've also seen instances of fake Facebook accounts, springing up. People pretending that they are Department of Employment Security employees, exchanging information with legitimate claimants who are looking for assistance with their claim. We will not interact with you on Facebook."

Richards said IDES will only contact you if an agent is returning a call, or the agency could send you an official email.

If they do, hover over the address to make sure it's from a .gov domain. The agency never asks people to upload personal information. For more information, click here.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.