Security Notice: Unemployment Benefit Fraud Rampant During COVID-19
The FBI has reported that they’ve "seen a spike in fraudulent unemployment claims complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic involving the use of personally identifiable information (PII)." For the full article, go to Federal Bureau of Investigation website: FBI Sees Spike in Fraudulent Unemployment Insurance Claims Filed Using Stolen Identities.
With the increase in unemployment claims for many Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals have leveraged the opportunity to file fraudulent claims and to misdirect benefits. If you or your employees have been the victim of this type of fraud, here are some resources that will help you determine what to do.
How Will I Know if My Business or an Employee is a Victim?
There are a few ways you may be alerted of potential fraud, but here are the most common:
- You receive notice from your state unemployment office concerning an unemployment claim for employees that have not been terminated or furloughed.
- Your employees receive notification from the unemployment office for benefits claims they did not file.
- Your employees apply for benefits and learn of a fraudulent claim.
How Do the Criminals Get the Information?
According to the FBI, criminals filing fraudulent claims "obtain the stolen identities using a variety of techniques, including the online purchase of stolen PII, previous data breaches, computer intrusions, cold-calling victims while using impersonation scams, email phishing schemes, physical theft of data from individuals or third parties, and from public websites and social media accounts, among other methods…." in their article on the topic.
What Your Employees Can Do
You can recommend that your employees:
- Report the fraud to your state’s Department of Labor: Visit the DOL Website for contact information for your state department.
- File a complaint with the FTC online at identitytheft.gov or call 877-ID-THEFT.
Your employees may also receive a letter from their state unemployment agency with instructions about what they should do.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website: Unemployment benefits fraud puts workers at risk of more ID theft
- FTC Identity Theft website: FTC Identity Theft Checklist