The Department of Labor & Industry is seeing an increase in fraudulent attempts to apply for unemployment benefits using stolen identities. Scammers have been signing up unwittingly – and still fully employed – residents for jobless benefits as part of a surge of sophisticated identity theft schemes to steal taxpayer money during the covid-19 pandemic.
Authorities at state and federal levels first flagged fraud last summer, as spikes in claims filings overwhelmed understaffed labor departments during the covid-spurred economic slowdown.
As quoted on Fox43.com, the press secretary for the department of labor says fraudsters are getting people’s personal information from large data breaches, like the Experian data leak and the one from Target. They steal people’s identities and then they use them to file unemployment claims on behalf of these victims.
We encourage our members to be vigilant in protecting their personal information and reporting suspected or known fraud and identity theft. We encourage you to regularly monitor your account for any unauthorized deposits, transactions or communications regarding password change requests that you did not initiate. If you suspect or see anything suspicious occurring with your account or information, contact the credit union as soon as possible at 610.372.8010.
If you believe you are a victim of unemployment fraud, the Department of Labor & Industry recommends that you take the following steps:
- File a form online:
- File via phone:
- Call the PA Fraud Hotline at 800-692-7469
- File a report with police:
- Contact police in the municipality you resided in at the time the unemployment fraud occurred/benefits in question were paid. A copy of the police report must also be provided to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.
- Contact your employer
- Put a freeze on your credit reports. Learn more about credit freezes and alerts here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-credit-freezes-and-fraud-alerts.
- Start a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting identitytheft.gov.
How to protect yourself against unemployment scams:
- Never give out your personal information over e-mail or text message.
- Don’t open or respond to unsolicited e-mails or text messages.
- Never give out your personal information on websites or social media channels – especially those that claim they can help you apply for unemployment benefits. Third parties can’t apply for your benefits.
- Don’t trust or rely on unemployment benefits information from unofficial websites – always visit uc.pa.gov for Pennsylvania unemployment program information.