CHICAGO (CBS) — A man wants to know where his money is, after someone hacked into his Illinois Department of Employment Security account and took off with his earnings.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, someone changed Darryl Hill’s phone number, his address, and his bank information – and nary a red flag was raised. How is that possible?

Hill wants to know.

“I barely can pay my phone bill,” Hill said.

Sitting on the steps outside his home, Hill said the bills are piling up as someone else collects his unemployment money.

“Where’s my money coming to?” he said. “Because it’s not coming to me!”

Hill was getting benefits on his IDES debit card for weeks, but then they stopped. At that point, Hill learned someone got into his account and changed all of his information.

“Everything was changed,” Hill said.

The fraudster redirected his money to their bank account.

“Somebody has hacked my account,” Hill said.

It took a few calls to IDES to figure out what happened.

But he says it’s taken many more days to try and fix it.

“Your authorization to use your pin was revoked,” Hill was told. “Please contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security.”

What Darryl doesn’t understand is how someone was able to get into his account, change everything but his name and Social Security number, and successfully get paid – without the state taking notice.

“You need to get in touch with that person and ask them certain questions to make sure that this is that person,” Hill said.

Molina asked IDES why that didn’t happen here. A spokeswoman did not say why the changes wouldn’t have raised a red flag in their system, but did say this:

Unemployment fraud throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major national issue, with bad actors across the globe attempting to exploit this crisis to take advantage of state unemployment systems and those receiving benefits. This is particularly true for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that was hastily designed at the federal level with states left on their own to build a system and implement. There are ongoing federal and state investigations aiming to crack down on this fraud and IDES is committed to working with law enforcement at all levels to hold bad actors accountable.

If a claimant thinks they have been the target of fraudulent activity, IDES asks that they contact the agency at 800.814.0513 and file a report. IDES will investigate the report and forward findings to law enforcement. If a claimant’s account was accessed and funds diverted, the claimant’s payment will be reissued. IDES urges claimants to please select unique passwords for their accounts, much like the advice they would receive from any financial institution.”

But there’s Hill a month later, still waiting on a callback from the fraud department to make that happen.

“If they were doing what they were supposed to be doing or had a better security method in place, none of this probably would have ever happened,” Hill said.

 

IDES recommends checking your account and making your password unique, just like you would for a bank account.

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.

Tara Molina