Illinois Unemployment Fraud
What Is Illinois Unemployment Fraud?
Illinois unemployment insurance fraud involves any situation where a claimant knowingly collects unemployment benefits that they aren’t entitled to receive. In some cases, they may be entirely ineligible for unemployment benefits, and every dollar collected is fraudulent. In other cases, they may still be eligible for unemployment, and yet collect more than they should. This is known as an overpayment.
When filing your unemployment claim, remember to consult an Illinois unemployment calculator and gather comprehensive details about your wages and work history to make sure your weekly benefit amount matches what you will be issued. For instance, suppose the unemployment office decides your WBA should actually be smaller than what they initially issued, believing you to have committed the filing of a fraudulent claim. You can avoid accusations of unemployment insurance benefits fraud with an appeal that details your work history.
Examples of Illinois Unemployment Fraud
When you are fired from a job through no fault of your own and fill out your Illinois unemployment application, you are required to provide details about your work history, including total wages and earned and the reasons for your termination. If a claimant misrepresents any of this information, whether by accident or because they are hoping to collect more benefits, this is considered fraud. You must fill out your application honestly and provide accurate information about your work history and wages to the IDES (Illinois Department of Economic Security).
Sometimes, once a claimant has already started collecting unemployment insurance, they may work odd jobs or find part-time work. Wages and earnings from this employment activity must be reported when filing the bi-weekly request for benefits, and any wages exceeding 50% of your WBA (weekly benefit amount) will be subtracted from your benefits. Though it may be tempting to avoid reporting this income (especially if it will reduce your benefits) you must report it.
Sometimes IDES will issue an overpayment of benefits. In most cases, IDES will send a notification that these benefits must be paid back. If a claimant does not make this payment, the amount will be withheld from future weekly benefit amounts until it is paid back. Note that those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, who received overpayments, received special waivers allowing them to keep overpayments made during the Covid pandemic. This waiver does not apply to regular unemployment.
Keep in mind that you have to pay taxes on your unemployment payments. These taxpayer dollars can be collected at the time you collect benefits, or at the end of the year. Unreported UI benefits are not technically part of a discussion about a fraudulent unemployment claim, but it is a tax issue, as they must be reported.
Consequences of Illinois Unemployment Fraud
The consequences of unemployment fraud are serious. The most serious consequences may involve up to 180 days of jail time, restitution of the fraudulently collected benefits plus a 15% penalty, and garnishing of your wages from the state comptroller for future earnings. You may also lose the ability to collect Illinois unemployment insurance benefits in the future.
You will also want to report identity fraud and contact IDES if someone is collecting benefit payments or claims have been opened in your name. Even if you aren’t responsible for this fraudulent activity, it can significantly delay the process of filing a legitimate claim in the future if the IDES office thinks you have submitted a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim in the past.
Keep From Fraudulent Practices
Although people apply for UI with the sole intention of acquiring Weekly benefit amount or insurance, they can unconsciously commit mistakes which can be classified as fraudulent. Also, it is important to remember that though your intentions weren’t to commit a fraud, it will however, not set you apart on the basis of intentions and you will nevertheless end up facing the consequences.
- Do not go on collecting weekly benefits without informing the authorities of obtaining a new job, be it full time or part time. Though there is a possibility to claim UI benefits when working part time, you must nevertheless keep the IDES tabbed on the changes in your employment’ status quo.
- Do not collect weekly benefits if you have been restored to your earlier job.
- Do not collect weekly benefits without reporting odd jobs, however less they earn you.
- Do not withhold information on the changes in the position or employment status of dependents if they are employed while you are still collecting benefits including them as your dependents.
- Do not collect benefit amount without informing whether your dependent/child has turned 18.
If you do not follow the aforementioned conditions before collecting your weekly benefits, you could be guilty of disregarding the Illinois State Law and be faced with the following consequences –
- You could be asked to pay a hefty sum as fines and penalties.
- You could be sentenced to prison.
- You could be offset against State and Federal income tax returns.
- You could never avail Unemployment Benefits again.
How To Report Illinois UI Fraud
To report fraud, call the Benefit Payment Control Division at 800-814-0513. Note that this is the same number you should call if you believe your rightfully collected benefits were deposited to the wrong bank account. There is also an online form you can fill out, which is the same form that will be used if you think you are the victim of identity theft.
If you are aware that you have received an overpayment because you were notified by the state of Illinois, you can mail a check or money order to the following address:
28542 NETWORK PLACE
CHICAGO, IL 60673-1285.
Write out the check or money order to the Illinois Department of Employment Security and place your unemployment claimant ID Number on the check or money order.
If you prefer to pay with a credit card, there are instructions for doing that in the notification, or you may call 877-820-9155.
What Is Illinois UI Identity Theft?
Identity theft involves someone using your personal information—like your name, address, and Social Security number—to collect unemployment benefits. Know that in cases of unemployment fraud, you are not responsible for repaying the money, and you will be able to collect unemployment insurance in the future if you need it, so their dishonesty will not impact your Illinois unemployment eligibility.
Employers should also keep identity theft in mind at all times. This is because employers often store sensitive personal information for employees for tax and payroll services. An unscrupulous or dishonest employee may peruse these records and steal personal information to file a UI benefits claim built on identity theft.
How To Report Illinois UI Identity Theft
There is an online UI identity theft reporting form you can fill out on the IDES website which will request your first and last name, claimant ID, and a few boxes to check, indicating whether you filed the claim. If you receive a monetary determination in the mail for unemployment benefits, but you did not file for them, you should fill out this form immediately.
If you received a check in the mail for unemployment insurance benefits, or a direct deposit made to your bank account, and you do not have a claimant ID number, you should call 800-814-0513 to speak to IDES.
Protect Your Information
Unemployment insurance identity theft is just one type of crime that involves stolen identities. There are some simple steps you can take to prevent fraudulent activity. One is just to keep personal information such as your Social Security number and debit card numbers private. Shred mail that contains sensitive information or loan offers, because criminals can often use these prequalified offers as backdoors to collect personal information about you.
Learn to recognize phishing attempts that are conducted via email, text, or phone. Government agencies will not call you to collect this type of personal information, so don’t give it out. It’s also a good idea to monitor your credit report to make sure nobody is using your personal information to conduct fraudulent activity like taking out loans in your name.