Keicher bill to shield Social Security numbers in IDES correspondence sails to State Senate

The Illinois House of Representatives has voted unanimously to pass legislation limiting the use of an applicant’s Social Security number on correspondence from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) in order to protect Illinois residents from the rampant fraud and identity theft that has plagued the agency since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, House Bill 3329, was introduced and sponsored by State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore.

“Thousands of Illinois residents, including many here in our community, have been victimized by fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits made in their name in the past year,” Rep. Keicher said. “I have been determined to take meaningful action to help prevent anything like this from occurring again and, thanks to the overwhelming bipartisan support my bill earned, we’re one step closer to putting this simple protection into law.”

Rep. Keicher’s bill would address at least part of the problem that has afflicted the IDES throughout its handling of both incredible numbers of unemployment insurance claims amidst the pandemic and, similarly, incredible numbers of fraudulent activities. Media reports have brought to public attention cases concerning individuals that received mail correspondence from the Department that listed the personal identifying information (including listings of entire SSNs). This legislation would limit the use of SSN and instead require the Department to use other means of verifying a person’s identity so as to not risk further instances where Illinois residents’ personal information may easily be stolen.

Social Security numbers may still be included in applications and forms sent by mail, including, but not limited to documents sent as part of an application or enrollment process or to establish, amend, or terminate an account, contract, or policy or to confirm the accuracy of the social security number.

House Bill 3329 was approved by a vote of 113-0 on April 22 with nine Democratic co-sponsors and eight Republican co-sponsors representing a broad cross section of Illinois including Chicago, the suburbs and Downstate.