Unemployment insurance fraud rates have exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to additional concerns of identity theft.
According to the FBI, many unemployment insurance victims do not know they have been affected until they file for jobless insurance benefits, receive a notification from the state unemployment insurance agency, receive an IRS Form 1099-G showing the benefits collected from unemployment insurance, or get notified by their employer that a claim has been filed while the victim is still employed. Surprisingly, individuals don’t have to be out of work to fall victim to unemployment fraud.
You should always be aware of suspicious activity that could indicate fraudulent activity—including telephone calls, text messages, letters, websites and emails—requesting personal or sensitive information, such as your social security number. Also, be wary of attachments and embedded links within emails, particularly ones from unfamiliar senders.
The FBI also advises individuals to beware of suspicious activities such as:
- Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits.
- Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits.
- Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance.
- Unsolicited inquires related to unemployment benefits.
- Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those of government agencies.
If you believe you are the victim of fraud, consider the following:
- File a report with your local police department to initiate a legal record of the fraud.
- Contact your credit bureau to examine your credit for any fraudulent activities and file a fraud alert.
- Notify the IRS to avoid any future potential unemployment payments.
- Inform the Social Security Administration.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission, which also provides resources for identity theft victims.
Victims of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims are not liable for repaying any potential benefits received. Don’t delay, act immediately to reduce the probability of difficulties filing for legitimate claims in the future and larger issues related to identity theft.