Watch CBS News

Wheeling Woman Has Made More Than 50 Calls About Unemployment Overpayment, Is Concerned About Who Can See Her Social Security Number

CHICAGO (CBS) -- One woman has called the governor's office, her state senator, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security more than 50 times in search of help with an unemployment overpayment.

Now, she had told CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot she is concerned about her personal information and who has access to it.

Rimma Brodetsky said she logs into the IDES website each week regarding her pandemic unemployment assistance to certify she's still unemployed. The Wheeling resident says she noticed something that shocked her after an IDES system update about two months ago.

"When you click into your account, you can see your whole Social Security number on it," Brodetsky said. "Not the last four - the whole Social Security number on it."

Brodetsky provided us with screen, which show her entire Social Security number next to the word "HIDE." Next to the word "SHOW," the last four digits of her number are visible too.

There's also a warning below that, telling anyone with access to this information to make sure they are in a secure location prior to clicking on the "SHOW" link to view the SSN, or choosing to print with the SSN displayed.

Le Mignot: "So you think if you can see the whole Social Security number, the call agent can see the whole Social Security number?"

Brodetsky: "I believe that. Yes."

Sources within IDES told CBS 2 that call agents do have access to claimants' social security numbers.

On top of her privacy concerns, Brodetsky said she has been trying to fix an overpayment in pandemic unemployment assistance money since July.

"Now they're garnishing my unemployment," she said. "I don't think they see the extent of what people are going through. A lot of people are not getting paid at all. A lot of people who are lucky to get paid, they have overpayments hanging over them. It's just a very hard situation."

It is a situation that Brodetsky hopes is fixed soon.

IDES spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco answered several questions we raised about how the organization uses Social Security numbers. Cisco said federal law requires identity checks of people filing for unemployment benefits, and thus, Social Security numbers are required and there is not an alternative method.

Cisco said is necessary for a claimant's Social Security number to be visible by call center agents "for obvious reasons.

"Call center agents need to verify who they are speaking or working with as claimants call the call center, and the Social Security number is one of the ways identities are verified," Cisco wrote. "Agents do not have broad access to SSNs or to SSNs of individuals who have never filed for unemployment benefits."

Cisco wrote that contracted call agents go through background checks handled by Deloitte and its subcontractors – including a national criminal check. She declined to disclose the complete background check procedures.

We also asked what turnover is like for contracted call center agents – how many leave after what period of time and why. Operational reports indicate that contracted call agents are in the range of 255 to 312 since Dec. 22 down from the mid-400s back in August and September.

Cisco wrote that call centers have a "natural attrition rate" by nature, but the time period we examined coincides with the end of federal CARES Act programs.

"As you know, former President Trump allowed these programs to expire by one day; renewal did not happen until December 27. Because of this, The Department was consistently reevaluating call center operations in real time through December 26, as a result of the impending expiration of these federal programs and the uncertainty surrounding any federal renewals or extensions," Cisco wrote. "The Department was prepared to make prudent fiscal decisions to the extent the CARES Act programs were to be in existence after December 26."

The programs were expanded through at least the middle of March by the federal Continued Assistance Act, and could be extended further, she wrote.

"IDES continuously monitors operations and is committed to hiring as many Illinoisans as is necessary to complete calls at the rate at which they need to be completed to assist claimants and individuals who require services from the Department," Cisco wrote.

Also From CBS Chicago:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.