CHICAGO (CBS) — The weekly U.S. unemployment report will be released later this morning. At CBS, we are working for Chicago, and always tracking problems with jobless claims in our area.

We normally don’t cover stories in Peoria, but a woman reached out to the Morning Insiders with concerns of taxpayer waste. Her mother received state unemployment benefits, even though she passed away two years ago.

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“I was just looking from somebody that would care,” Cindy Pille said from her home office downstate. “And looking for information to see if people were having the same issue.”

Pille explained a strange piece of mail that arrived recently.

“A letter addressed to my mom, to my address, with an IDES return on it,” she said.

The letter was from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, but Pille’s mom, Shirley, hadn’t applied for benefits in decades.

Why’d she suddenly get an IDES debit card she didn’t ask for?

“If we’re just wasting more money by creating these beautiful IDES, cards and mailing them out across our state, it’s ridiculous,” Pille said.

Perhaps even more ridiculous is the fact Pille’s mother has been dead for two years.

“I mean, what in the world is going on?’” Pille said.

CBS 2 has covered multiple problems plaguing IDES throughout the pandemic; from people getting stuck on hold for hours when they call about unemployment benefits to problems with the department’s website.

Some who finally did get their benefits couldn’t cash in, because their debit cards didn’t work.

Others called us about possible scams.

“Why is this card being produced for my mom? That costs money to do,” Pille said.

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A card in a dead woman’s name was new to us, but didn’t seem to surprise IDES. A spokesperson said Pille should fill out a fraud report.

“A person who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a KeyBank debit card or UI finding letter in the mail, could be the target of fraud.  Fraud can be particularly egregious during times of crisis.  IDES is aware there are individuals who see an opportunity to take advantage of a system whose focus is to provide short-term economic relief to those impacted by this crisis.  Currently, unemployment systems across the country are dealing with and mitigating fraud of unemployment insurance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  If someone believes unemployment fraud is being committed, we encourage them to contact IDES at 800.814.0513 or 877.566.6230 or submit an allegation online here.

While the Department continues to help those who need assistance with their unemployment claims and benefits, we always monitor for potential fraudulent activity and take the necessary steps to detect and prevent fraud, and pursue fraudsters with criminal and civil suits if necessary.”

Pille said that answer doesn’t satisfy her, nor would it satisfy her mom.

“She’s always done clerical or billing, and keeping things in line. So this isn’t something she’d appreciate,” she said. “But I know it’s something she would’ve wanted me to call on, and say ‘Cindy, help stop it, because something is very wrong.’”

The debit card for Pille’s mother didn’t have any money on it, nor was there any history of transactions.

CBS 2 asked IDES twice how many other reports they’ve gotten of dead people getting debit cards, but did not get an answer to that question.

If you or someone you know received unemployment benefits for someone who is deceased, contact Lauren Victory on her Facebook page.

 

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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Lauren Victory