CHICAGO (WBBM) — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly a million people in Illinois have been scammed in connection with unemployment.
CBS 2 has exposed quite a few of them as part of our commitment to Working for Chicago and now has uncovered a new one reeling people in with a simple text message.
In this new phishing scam, people are trying to get personal information that could be used to file for unemployment claims though it is not clear what the actual motivation is. It could be used for other purposes.
The scam comes in the form of a text message claiming to be IDES.
“It said, ‘Illinois.gov,’ and then, you know, the link is kind of highlighted, ‘IDES action required, your driver’s license required to meet with our new regulation compliant update.’ And then it says, ‘visit’ and then it gives a link for you to click on,” said Raechel Perez.
Perez received the text message earlier this week. She is receiving unemployment, so she thought it was strange IDES would reach out via text.
“When you first file for unemployment, one of the first things that you have to input is your driver’s license,” Perez said. “Another thing that stood out for me would be, why are they asking me for this information again if it should already be in the system?”
In order to file an unemployment claim in Illinois you have to provide your driver’s license or state ID information, so IDES believes this is the root of why scammers are attempting to collect this type of information.
But the text isn’t just being sent to those who already receive unemployment. Margaret Kuznieski is a retiree who received the text.
“I’ve been sent several scam texts and I overlook them. But what got me was the illinois.gov in blue and then about the IDES and all that,” she said.
Neither woman clicked on the link, but they did both post a screenshot to social media, concerned someone vulnerable may fall victim.
“Especially if they haven’t gotten in contact and gotten that approval or denial letter that could put them over the edge,” said Perez.
CBS 2 tried calling two of the numbers that sent the text messages, only to be met with a busy tone.
A spokeswoman for IDES said they will never request information via text. She said they don’t know what the scammers are doing with the information but can surmise the goal is to make fraudulent unemployment claims.
The attorney general warns that visiting the website in the text may not just trick you into disclosing personal information; it could also place malware on your phone.
IDES has handled 962,000 cases of unemployment fraud since the pandemic began, but that number could grow due to this new phishing scam.
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