People seeking Illinois unemployment benefits online will soon face additional steps to ensure they’re not using stolen identities, officials told state lawmakers Thursday.
The “ILogin” system is part of a beefed-up effort to battle fraud that has ripped through the state’s unemployment agency during the pandemic. The system includes safeguards already used by some states and in much of the private sector, such as multifactor authentication.
“In some ways, this is standing in for going to a location and presenting your secretary of state driver’s license in front of someone, where they would view it,” said Adam Ford, the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology’s chief information security officer. […]
A Tribune investigation published in June found IDES was late to adopt fraud-fighting tools pushed by federal officials or other anti-fraud techniques long used by banks and retailers as well as some government agencies. A separate Tribune report in July found IDES was struggling to stop another type of fraud in which thieves hijack the claims of legitimate filers.
* Center Square…
In the spring, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said they’ve stopped 1.7 million fraudulent claims. But, at an Illinois House hearing Thursday, IDES Director Kristin Richards still couldn’t quantify how much has been paid out.
“Some states have put out their rough estimates,” Richards said. “We’ve not yet been in a position to do so. But those rough estimates have largely been focused on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.”
PUA was the temporary unemployment program the federal government set up for independent contractors and the self-employed. When pressed for an estimate of how much fraud there’s been, Richards still couldn’t say.
One thing that is clear, Jon Coss with Thomson Reuters said, is a trend seen across the country.
“What we’ve literally seen claims come in from as many 150 countries to another state unemployment system,” Coss said.
Coss said the hackers knew what they were doing.
“This includes the use of technologies like bots, IP spoofing software and email wildcards,” Coss said. “Criminals are also taking advantage of a large number of data breaches to use stolen IDs and create synthetic, sometimes referred to as Frankenstein, IDs to steal funds.”
* Meanwhile, a few Illinoisans I know tell me they’ve received letters like this from Ohio…
* CBS 2…
Being laid off during the pandemic was the story of nearly 4 million people in Illinois. CBS 2 found it also drove some to try and get help from IDES in person, and in some cases, in ways that put staff at risk.
A review of incident reports, 911 calls, photos and internal emails offer a glimpse into the lengths some went to after they couldn’t get through to the agency. During that time, many who said they were desperate and struggling to make ends meet turned up to the offices and, when they couldn’t get help in person, some resorted to aggression and violence, including making multiple bomb threats. […]
More than 50 security incidents would take place across the state, according to CBS 2’s analysis. Claimants threatened to bomb offices via phone and in person if they didn’t get the help they needed; some vandalized the properties by urinating on the building or pouring oil in the claimant drop box; and one person approached an employee at their home asking for help. […]
More than 40 offices across the state offer some level of IDES services, from unemployment insurance help to workforce development. As of Sept. 20, the 18 IDES offices in American Job Centers that offer unemployment insurance assistance have reopened for scheduled in-person appointments, as part of a gradual reopening that began on Aug. 26. None are fully open to the public.