All over the country, people are receiving letters in their mailboxes that were not meant for them.
“My mom called me Friday and said, she got this unsolicited prepaid debit card in the mail addressed to my dad,” Brenda Schmidt of Naperville told NBC 5 Responds. “And that was surprising enough, but more surprising because my dad passed on December 27, 2015. So, immediately red flags went up."
Schmidt's late father, Jerry, is among hundreds of people who did not apply for unemployment benefits, but received them anyway, in the form of a prepaid debit card.
NBC 5 Responds
Worried about potential fraud in her father’s name, Schmidt tried reaching out to KeyBank, which provided the debit card. The bank told Brenda they just issued the card at the request of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES.
“When you call the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the 1-800 number immediately responds with a busy signal, which I haven't heard since I was a teenager,” Schmidt said.
She’s not alone in her dilemma.
Police departments in Arlington Heights, St. Charles and Kenilworth, as well as the Lake County Sheriff’s Department recently issued warnings on Twitter and Facebook after getting several calls from residents who received the cards in the mail without requesting them.
And the FBI has also seen a spike in fraud claims of this type, recently issuing a public service announcement.
But all law enforcement agree, recipients should not try to cash in the cards.
NBC 5 responds reached out to both KeyBank and IDES for a response. A spokesperson from KeyBank said, “We are working closely with IDES in the prevention of fraud. Individuals who believe they have fallen victim to an unemployment related fraud should contact IDES and their local law enforcement.”
“A person who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a KeyBank debit card or UI finding letter in the mail, could be the target of fraud," IDES told NBC 5 Responds. "Currently, unemployment systems across the country are dealing with and mitigating fraud of unemployment insurance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. If someone believes unemployment fraud is being committed, we encourage them to contact IDES at (800) 814-0513 and visit IDES.Illinois.gov for more information about reporting fraud.”
Schmidt said she still has not been able to get through to IDES.
“I wanted to just let them know, 'Hey you're sending out, this is our state money and going out to all these people that shouldn't have it.'”