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June 30, 2011

New Debit Cards to be Issued for Employment Benefits
Red MasterCard to Replace Blue Visa

CHICAGO - New debit cards were issued to individuals receiving unemployment insurance in Illinois and who are not already using direct deposit, the Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today.

A new red Chase MasterCard will replace the blue Visa. The money on the blue Visa cannot be transferred to the red MasterCard. Therefore, individuals should spend the blue card’s balance to zero before the card expires. Individuals also can remove the money from the blue card inside any bank that accepts Visa. IDES issued new cards to all current card users, and benefits paid on July 1 and thereafter will be issued to the red card.

There is no change for individuals who receive benefit payments through direct deposit. The Department continues to encourage claimants to choose direct deposit, which is a simple, smart and secure way to receive benefits.  Claimants can sign up for direct deposit at www.ides.illinois.gov

There also is no change to how claimants confirm they are eligible for benefits. The process, often referred to as certifying for benefits, is necessary every two weeks in order to receive payment.

As before, the new debit card is not a credit card. Free transactions are available at JPMorgan Chase and inside more than 5,000 Illinois banks that accept MasterCard. Free transactions also are available at point-of-sale counters that accept MasterCard, such as grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores. Customers can request cash back after qualifying purchases.

The Department will never telephone, text, nor e-mail individuals to seek sensitive banking information. Anyone who receives such contact should not respond. Claimants can direct questions to any local office or by calling (800) 244-5631. Fraud can be reported at www.ides.illinois.gov or by calling (312) 793-3200. Chase also accepts fraud reports at abuse@chase.com

The IDES supports economic stability by administering unemployment benefits, collecting business contributions to fund those benefits, connecting employers with qualified job seekers, and providing economic information to assist career planning and economic development. It does so through nearly 60 offices across the state, including the Illinois workNet Centers. Services for Illinois workers include assistance to identify how current skills might be augmented through training or schooling in an effort to qualify for a new job or switch careers. For businesses, the Department administers tax credits and bonding programs to reward employers who hire specific workers, such as military veterans and the formerly incarcerated.

The Illinois seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month of May is 8.9 percent. It is the most recent number available. Nationally, the same figure is 9.1 percent. Illinois has added more than 107,700 jobs since January 2010, when job growth returned to Illinois following the national recession. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for a job regardless if they are eligible for unemployment insurance. A person not collecting unemployment insurance still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they look for work.


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