CHICAGO (CBS) — After ongoing reports of problems at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, one suburban woman says she got benefits she didn’t ask for and then ended up being punished, hit right in her bank account.
Tara Frost says she did nothing wrong and now she is paying for it. She and her husband rescue dogs in their spare time, but there may be no rescuing her from a fraud flag on her state unemployment benefit record, through no fault of her own.
“I am concerned about that,” she said.
Frost works for the state at Northern Illinois University. She says in May she got a notice from NIU telling her an IDES employee had called to check on her unemployment claim, but Frost never stopped working.
“I’m really lucky,” she said.
She never filed an unemployment claim.
“My payroll department assured me that they let them know and that would be the end of it, but then two weeks later I got money deposited directly into my account from unemployment,” Frost said.
It was about $2,000. That is when she began calling IDES to report the fraud and to try to give the money back.
“Then she stated to me that, ‘Unemployment is a mess right now. We really don’t know what to do. Call back towards the end of the year, and pay it back then,'” Frost said.
Frost said she set aside the money in savings, but then there was another twist. Her pay stub showed the state was garnishing her wages for the money she owed and charging her a $100 administrative fee to boot.
“With no warning,” she said. “I actually got a letter after from them.”
IDES has been under siege since the pandemic’s start. There have been an unprecedented number of benefit claims and, arguably, an unprecedented number of problems.
Frost’s concern is what will happen to her record if she ever has to file for unemployment and if she will incur penalty weeks, too.
“My background is IT, and my husband works with big data. This idea that we can’t figure it out, it’s just not true,” she said.
Frost did file for unemployment once a decade ago.
CBS 2 reached out to IDES spokesperson Rebecca Cisco Thursday morning to ask about this matter and how it should be handled but had not heard back by 5 p.m. However, an IDES source tells CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov this scenario is a new one.