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holmes 021121Holmes urges taxpayers to be wary, vigilant of ID theft

AURORA – Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), Chair of the Senate Labor Committee, warns taxpayers to be aware of ongoing nationwide unemployment fraud as tax season approaches. Across the country, taxpayers are opening their annual earnings statements and learning they've been the victim of unemployment fraud that has swept the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's bad enough that so many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic. It's just plain evil that there are hackers out there preying on individuals, stealing their identities and filing fraudulent claims, too many of which will go unnoticed until the annual earnings statement arrives for tax time,” Holmes said. “Check your statements, check your credit and if you've been a victim, take action now."

This ongoing fraud attack on unemployment systems was a key part of a Senate Labor Committee hearing this week. The vulnerability of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for self-employed workers and independent contractors left unemployment systems exposed to fraud. IDES, working with law enforcement, put stronger documentation requirements in place for wage and identification to reduce that vulnerability, and the federal government is engaged at the national level.

Most importantly, state officials said they have set up hotlines and added advice to the state agency website to help victims. Individuals can call IDES at (800) 244-5631 with questions about their 1099-G form. Resources are also available on IDES's website, at https://www.ides.illinois.gov/1099G or https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/Report-Identity-Theft.aspx.

This week’s hearing culminated many virtual meetings of a working group Holmes has led since last year. Next week the Labor Committee will hold a second hearing on unemployment issues with representatives of business and labor.