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Amid increased Illinois unemployment filings, lawmaker gets fraudulent benefits card, calls for public hearings

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Friday, November 6, 2020  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Unemployment (93) McConchie, Dan--State Senate, 26

(The Center Square) – When a state lawmaker gets a debit card with fraudulent unemployment benefits they can contact the state agency’s director directly. 

Illinoisans who could be victims of fraud will have to wait for a callback.

Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor shows more than 76,000 Illinoisans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. That’s 23,000 more than the week before and weeks of consecutive increases. Most of the nation has reported a decline in unemployment filings.

But in Illinois, the increased filings stacks on top of backlogs of callbacks for benefits. It also stacks up on top of reported cases of fraud. 

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said he recently got a card with benefits despite being employed.

“It’s interesting that as a sitting elected official, even I am being targeted this way, and I’m not the only one,” McConchie said.

He was able to contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security director to sort through his issue.

“IDES is working on it,” he said. “They’re way behind where they need to be.”

He encouraged victims of the scheme to file a claim online, but in one instance, an employed Illinois resident who got fraudulent benefits had to wait a full month for a callback. Others waited hours on hold for someone to pick up to get the issue sorted out. McConchie said people should also reach out to their state lawmakers to expedite a remedy. There could be tax implications.

“It’s very possible that in January of next year you’ll be getting a [Form] 1099 and that will an even bigger mess,” McConchie said.

It’s been months of increased filings, delays and reports of fraud. McConchie said the administration needs to be held accountable with public hearings.

“Have them bring a wishlist,” he said. “Have them come and say ‘in order to fix our systems, in order to fix our processes, here are the type of things we need from the General Assembly.’ I don’t know what that list would be but I think hearings would be a great start in helping them get to where they need to be.”

Lawmakers have not held public hearings on the issue the pandemic.