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New ILogin Verification System Is Locking Out Illinoisans Trying To File Unemployment Claims

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Imagine logging on to get your unemployment money, and getting an error message that keeps you locked out.

A new additional security system designed to prevent unemployment fraud is causing new problems for many claimants. CBS 2's Tara Molina took a closer look at the issues Tuesday.

The new verification system is called ILogin, and it's meant to keep identity thieves - who have plagued the system since the state of the pandemic - out of online accounts. But according to the number of people we've heard from since it debuted, it's keeping legitimate claimants out too.

Unemployment claimant Jeffrey Degen showed us his computer screen routed to the ILogin system with the message, "An error has occurred." He said he's seen that message dozens of times.

"It errored out today again," Degen said. "They are having problems."

He's kept running into the error message ever since first trying to access his online account - using the Illinois Department of Employment Security's new ILogin system that is now required for those logging in online.

"I think they just got overwhelmed," Degen said.

Locked out for days, Degen had to put his number in the state's system for a callback for help, ultimately delaying his certification and his unemployment money.

He's not the only one.

"Can't get into the account - that's the definite end-of-the-day problem," said Rick Wojciechowski, who is helping an unemployment claimant.

A Facebook post on the IDES page about the new system has more than 200 comments - many from people having issues.

"Obviously, this is a problem for a lot of other people," Wojciechowski said.

Still, when we first asked the state earlier this month about system issues with ILogin, we were told they weren't aware of any.

But through a public records request, we found that since the ILogin system debuted, the backlog in the state's callback system grew - with more phone numbers waiting for returned calls for help in early October than we've seen since April.

IDES Callback Stats
(Credit: CBS 2)

Many of them had certification and password issues. Molina asked about that.

The spokesperson for IDES didn't address all of our questions…only saying they'd need more specific information on the issues people are having, like forgotten passwords, in order to address them:

"While we would need more specific details related to what exactly each claimant is experiencing while registering with ILogin, standard issues preventing registration may include the need for further identity verification and forgotten claimant IDs/passwords, among other issues. Claimants experiencing registration with ILogin must contact the call center or schedule an appointment at an office to complete registration."

"It almost feels like they're not looking into it," said Wojciechowski. "Do they have technical people looking at the problem? The complaints are pretty obvious."

"Figure out what's going on with it," added Degen.

We also asked the state if everyone answering phones for IDES is equipped to help people with ILogin registration and access. We got no answer.

CBS 2's Molina has also been asking how much money Illinois has lost to fraudulent unemployment claims for almost a year now. We won't stop until we get an answer.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We'll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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