CHICAGO (CBS) — This a case of two wrongs adding up to more bad news for a Waukegan woman. First, she gets unemployment she didn’t ask for. Now, she’s being threatened by the state.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker has the story.
When we first introduced you to Latisha Jones, we hid her identity because she was uncomfortable going public with her story.
“I didn’t apply for unemployment,” Jones said. She was almost embarrassed to have been approved for $484 a month because she had a full-time job.
“I’ve been working for the last six years,” she said.
Jones was the victim of ID theft. Someone had used her personal information and applied for benefits in her name. Only the unemployment debit card came to her home. But to this day, she said she hasn’t touched the money.
“I haven’t activated. It’s still in envelope,” Jones said.
She is now willing to show her face because she’s angry. Last week, she got a letter from the Illinois Department of Employment security saying she owed $4,000 for overpayment. Actually it was for $4,336.00. The notice said the amount owed must be repaid.
“I haven’t done nothing wrong. I’m being blamed or penalized for something that I didn’t do,” Jones said.
She filed out a fraud complaint the first time she was approved for unemployment benefits she didn’t ask for. This time she called and got lucky.
“I finally talked to someone. They’re not telling me that they’re going take care of it,” she said.
The IDES agent directed Jones to fill out a police report saying she was victim of ID theft, send it to the agency and trust the IDES to fix it.
“My concern is that they’re going to try and make me pay back this money that I didn’t take or apply for,” Jones said.
CBS 2 reached out to employment attorney Karen Doran who suggested Jones and others who have received benefits they didn’t apply for not only send a police report but keep sending emails to the IDES fraud department.
“If it stands and it never gets fixed, that means IDES can go after you,” Doran said.
According to the notice, the state can withhold your state income, tax refunds, lottery winnings and other monies.
“I don’t want to check my check stub and see they’re garnishing money out of my check,” Jones said.
As for the debit card, Doran said if might seem like a good idea to take the money out of the bank and send it the state. But that’s the last thing you want to do.
“IDES would interpret that action as her somehow acknowledging she had applied,” Doran said.
“It’s stressful and upsetting. It’s deeper than just the money. It’s my name on the line for something I didn’t do,” lamented Jones.
As soon as the IDES offices open, Jones plans to be the first in line. But who knows when that will happen. The state has yet to announce a reopening date.