Unemployment debit card scam hits dozens of Chicago area residents

The fraud may involve criminals requesting a change of address from the bank issuing the funds after the unemployment application is processed, police say.

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Information signs are displayed at an Illinois Department of Employment Security WorkNet center in Arlington Heights in June.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security is warning residents of a nationwide benefit card scam.

Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo

Several Chicago area residents who received unrequested unemployment benefits in the mail are the latest victims of a nationwide scam, officials are warning.

Unrequested debit cards from KeyBank are likely a sign that a scammer requested unemployment benefits using a victim’s stolen identity, but was unable to change the forwarding address, several police departments said.

At least 10 residents in Aurora reported being victims, while other police departments in Geneva, Arlington Heights, Palos Park and St. Charles have also reported incidents of the scam.

“When this occurs, sometimes scammers call, text, or email trying to get the victims to send some or all of the money to them,” Palos Park Police Chief Joe Miller said in a statement. “They may say they are from the state unemployment agency and say that the money was sent by mistake.”

Residents are urged to not activate the card if they didn’t apply for it, the Illinois Department of Employment Security warned.

The department said it is “aggressively cracking down on this fraud network” with the help of federal agencies.

Victims should also check their credit report for possible suspicious activity and post a fraud alert, the department said.

The increase in fraudulent unemployment claims is believed to be coming out of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides assistance to people not covered under the state’s unemployment insurance program, the department said.

Anyone who thinks they’ve been a victim of the fraud is asked to call the department at 800-814-0513 or visit the IDES website.

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