Louisville – It has come to the attention of State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) that over the first five days of the new Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application program to file for unemployment benefits, personal information involving the private information of thousands of Illinois unemployment applicants. The PUA program is intended for independent contractors and the self-employed who do not qualify for the standard benefits program but can qualify under this new federal program administered through the states.
“Identity theft is the biggest criminal enterprise in today’s electronic world. Criminals can access back accounts, medical records, financial records to take your life savings or even take out loans and open credit cards under YOUR name and social security numbers,” said Rep. Bailey. “
On Friday, May 15, 2020, a concerned constituent in a neighboring district contacted her state representative of a potential data breach at the Illinois Department of Employment Security. With just two clicks, that constituent stumbled upon the personal information of thousands of unemployment applicants on the IDES website. This came up in a spreadsheet with thousands of names containing sensitive information. The information she was able to access included the name, address, social security number, and unemployment claimant ID number of thousands of people.
The IDES and Governor’s office was contacted. At the time of this writing, the only official response received from the Governor’s office has been an email reply to that representative’s letter that said, “Thank you Representative. We are aware and fixing the problem.”
“I join my colleagues in demanding answers from Governor Pritzker and his staff about the extent of this breach,” continued Rep. Bailey. “Does this breach of the data extend to every application in the IDES system now and in the past? What is the administration doing to protect Illinoisans from identity theft and the potential theft of benefits that need to go to the rightful applicants who are impacted by this economic situation during the coronavirus emergency?”