(NEXSTAR) — Nine months into the pandemic, issues at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) continue. Long wait times are still keeping people from their money and fraudulent claims are being sent to people who are still employed.
IDES is still taking thousands of calls every week from unemployed residents looking for their benefits. But as they send out those benefits, they are also sending out fraudulent claims to people who are still employed.
University of Illinois Springfield professor Richard Funderburg says the problem is rampant.
“One in every three faculty in my department are victims. So this isn’t just me. I’m the only one right now in my immediate circle that I know is a second-round victim,” Professor Funderburg said.
But Funderburg also stands out from his colleagues. He didn’t just receive a bogus claim once—he got hit twice.
“Sure enough, on November 22, I received a brand new claim. So here’s the problem. They should have had a flag on my claimant ID saying that I was fraudulent but they again determine me eligible,” the professor added.
House Republicans held another press conference to demand the legislature be involved in fixing IDES. They say the fraudulent claims and long wait times for callbacks are clear failures, especially nine months into the pandemic.
But they have no idea how to fix it. Rep Mike Murphy says it’s impossible to unless they have a hearing first.
“I’m not going to assume that I know their problems without having that thorough hearing where they can be fully bedded in and discover what the issues are,” Rep. Murphy said.
The problem isn’t just for employees but it’s also a hassle for their employer.
Kevin Epley is an HR director at Landmark Automotive in Springfield. He has had to deal with seven different employees getting these fraudulent claims, one of them being himself.
“I’m on both sides. Now, I am not only a victim, but I’m also someone that has to deal with the circumstances. It’s frustrating and frightening for all the employees involved,” Epley said.
The national unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% to 6.7% from October to November. In the past week, the state received nearly 75,000 new unemployment claims.
Almost 300,000 people have claimed unemployment benefits in the state.