House Republicans to Pritzker: Stop Pointing Fingers and Start Providing Solutions
With identity fraud tied to unemployment claims in Illinois at an all-time high, Illinois State Representatives Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), and Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) held a press conference Friday and said Governor Pritzker needs to stop pointing fingers and start proposing solutions.
Since March, more than 212,000 fraudulent claims have been filed with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Most fraudulent activity involves unemployment benefit debit cards with money on them that are being received by Illinoisans who did not file for benefits, or business owners who cannot obtain Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds because their identities were stolen and money due to them was channeled to a cyber-hacker. “Governor Pritzker continues to blame the federal government for his department’s failings, but it’s time for JB Pritzker to take responsibility for the fact that his IDES has failed at every turn during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro). “Rather than continuing to play the blame game, the Governor needs to fix this failed system once and for all and share with the General Assembly his plan to protect the identities of Illinoisans at risk of having their personal information compromised.” State Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) said Illinoisans who receive no help or no callbacks from IDES are turning to their legislators for assistance, often in a state of desperation. “Helping constituents who are having difficulties applying for benefits and receiving answers from IDES has become the number one issue which I and my district office staff have been spending time on since the outbreak began in March,” said Bennett. “Meanwhile groceries still have to be bought and bills still have to be paid while the applicants wait. The delays and failures at IDES are unacceptable. Government must do better!” While the Attorney General’s Office recommends that all people use strong account passwords, monitor their credit reports, register for fraud alerts by text or email, and pay close attention to all financial accounts, Rep. Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) said that’s not nearly enough, and that state government needs to do more to protect people from fraud. “Telling families who need to put food on the table to monitor their credit reports for potential unemployment fraud is a completely unacceptable abdication of the government’s responsibility to the people,” said Murphy. “Then telling victims who are just trying to stay afloat to repay the government for its failure to protect against fraud adds serious insult to injury. We are long overdue for public hearings, the legislature needs to convene and concrete answers to address the ongoing problems at IDES must be provided.”