CHICAGO (CBS) — Problems are piling up at Illinois’ unemployment office over names and social security numbers being mailed to complete strangers. The state says it wants to hear from the people who got the personal information, but when those people call no one is listening.
In fact CBS 2 found it takes days to register a complaint. CBS 2’s Chris Tye broke the story that led to state policy change.
Those whose identities were breached have been notified and those trying to notify the state of the breach in the first place haven’t had an easy time doing it.
“They were just dumbfounded. They had nothing, nothing to say,” said Joe Urbauer.
He said the state reacted to the news of his 11 letters with 11 names and social security numbers from Abed and Frances to Karen and Laura and Martin. The letters were initiated by fraudsters and aimed at unlocking unemployment money.
“Both operators I spoke to had like no idea what I was talking about,” he said.
Both calls were delayed by days because of the quantity of complaints to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
“How can you report it if you can’t get through and if nobody there knows what you’re talking about?” Urbauer said.
CBS 2 reporting on this matter had led to a policy change. No longer will full social security numbers be sent out from IDES, but unprepared call takers does not jibe with what the state is saying.
“The Department is working to identify individuals who may be affected by this scheme and asks that recipients of these letters help IDES fight fraud by reporting these letters to the Department,” a release from IDES said.
At least 21 unlucky Illinoisans’ names and social security numbers have been sent to strangers. CBS 2 has tracked down two of them. In neither case has the state contacted them to let them know their information landed squarely in a stranger’s mailbox.
“She had no clue what I was talking about,” said Urbauer. “She said just send the letters back.”
So Urbauer sent the letters back along with a handwritten letter he hopes will absolve him of any liability.
“In my letter the very last thing I said, ‘I take no responsibility for anything that happens for you sending me these letters,'” Urbauer said. “I did exactly what IDES said: mail the letters back.”
Joe agrees with the state changing their policy of not sharing social security numbers on any IDES outgoing paperwork. He is not sure why the state does not make that standard procedure for all departments.
CBS 2 has asked the state twice whether that could become statewide policy and twice we have not heard back.
Also From CBS Chicago: