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Illinois Launches New Benefit Fraud Prevention Tool

7/10/2012

For Immediate Release | Contact: Greg Rivara, (312) 814-0095 (pdf)

Cross Matching, Other Initiatives to Save $200 Million Annually

CHICAGO - Individuals collecting unemployment insurance will be matched against inmate lists from Illinois' county jails and state prisons in the latest effort to protect taxpayers, prevent fraud and abuse, and help the economy, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today.

"Cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse is a top priority," IDES Director Jay Rowell said. "This is an important step in our ongoing effort to ensure that only those who earned benefits receive benefits. By bringing greater fiscal integrity to unemployment benefits, we can reduce taxes on businesses which will help to further encourage job growth."

Among the requirements to be eligible for unemployment insurance is to be available for work. The new inmate cross-match system identifies an individual who is incarcerated but receiving a benefit payment. Measures are in place to prevent benefits from being improperly stripped from someone who is incarcerated but otherwise available for work. As with all IDES eligibility decisions, an appeals process is available.

The inmate cross-match program is yet another effort in the past year that fights fraud and combats abuse. The IDES has a similar program that compares employment lists against unemployment insurance beneficiaries. The Department now garnishes federal income tax returns from individuals who wrongfully collected benefits and refused a repayment program. Working with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, two new assistant attorneys general now are detailed to IDES. Together, the new initiatives could save up to $200 million each year. These anti-fraud efforts enhance the more than $400 million businesses are expected to save through unemployment insurance rate reform and the 16 percent tax reduction for companies that did not lay off workers in 2011.

Unemployment insurance benefits are funded through business contributions. These temporary dollars most often are spent for essentials at the local grocery, gas station and clothing store, thereby supporting the local economy. Every $1 in unemployment benefits generates nearly $1.63 in economic activity.

Rep. John Cavaletto, R-Salem, sponsored a resolution encouraging the IDES to undertake this cross match.

Report fraud suspicions to IDES at (800) 814-0513 or online at www.ides.illinois.gov.