Springfield, IL - Many people across Illinois are still struggling to get unemployment benefits, while others are dealing with credit fraud from scammers. Somehow, KeyBank cards with information from the Illinois Department of Employment Security shipped across the country. The Capitol Bureau spoke with a Pennsylvania man who is deeply concerned.
"I've never lived in Illinois. I've never worked in Illinois," Alan Silberlight said over Zoom. "The only reason my wife and I have been in Illinois is to see a Barry Manilow concert. That's it."
That's why Silberlight was surprised to receive a letter from IDES with a debit card in his name for unemployment benefits.
As a senior, Silberlight says he is always aware of internet and phone scams. However, this situation was unique. After giving the fraudulent debit card to the local police, he wanted to check in with IDES. Silberlight received a call back from an employee who said she could help him with the situation. She quickly put him on hold.
"After two or three minutes, my phone call got disconnected. So, I assumed that she would call me back, and she did not," Silberlight explained. "I cannot figure out why, because she had my name and number. She could have called back. I don't know what's going on there."
Thankfully, he was able to get in contact with the Illinois Attorney General's office. They explained that the state would offer credit protection through TransUnion, and Silberlight also plans to check in with LifeLock.
"You have to be proactive. No matter how old you are, you have to be proactive." Still, he says IDES has "fumbled the ball" for families who genuinely need the unemployment benefits.
The department says this is a nationwide issue. Still, the Capitol Bureau asked if IDES officials know how many people from other states received the debit cards. Spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco said she was unsure if the department tracks fraud reports out of state. Cisco told the Bureau that she will look into the issue.
Meanwhile, Silberlight is still waiting for a response from IDES. "I had to join the queue again. So you call up, and they tell you they will reach you during normal business hours, but they don't say in how many days." He has read about Illinois' unemployment issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and understands the constant headaches.
"Eventually, you'd think maybe you'd get a phone call that will last for the proper amount of minutes it's supposed to last."
He feels the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. "I get the feeling that they're passing the buck. I also get the feeling that the governor is getting annoyed about this. I hope I'm wrong, but too many people have been affected."
Silberlight knows scammers are trying to target older people across the country, so he says everyone should check their bank accounts as much as possible.