The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about many hardships for Americans. Concerns about health, money, job security and the future have been in the forefront of our minds. Another that stems from the pandemic is a widespread scam involving unemployment benefits. This isn’t a new scam, but its cases have increased exponentially. We are here to answer questions about unemployment fraud and what to do if you become a victim.
What Is Unemployment Fraud?
Criminals have been filing for unemployment benefit claims, using stolen personal information of individuals without their knowledge. These offenders are using stolen Social Security numbers and birthdates, at the very least. You may receive a notice from your state’s unemployment benefits office regarding the application, or your employer may notify you.
If thieves have enough information to file a fraudulent unemployment claim in your name, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Next Steps If You Believe You’re A Victim
Notify your employer of the unemployment fraud.
Your employer will be notified of the unemployment application, but it is good to get out in front of an issue like this. Keep detailed records regarding your conversations, including dates, times and who you spoke with.
Notify your state’s unemployment agency of the fraud.
- Report the fraud online, if possible. You will have physical documentation of your filing, and your report will most likely be processed much faster.
- Keep records of anything you can involving the claim, including a case or confirmation number.
Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov.
Reporting the fraud to the FTC will allow them to crack down on these criminals much faster.
Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your file with the three major credit bureaus.
These options will make it much more difficult for a criminal to open new lines of credit in your name. Fraud alerts and credit freezes do have some significant differences though. Learn more about the differences here.
Frequently review your credit reports.
Your credit report will show you any lines of credit that have been opened under your name. You can also see attempts to pull your credit, even if an account wasn’t open. In a normal year, you are eligible for one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). However, due to COVID-19, you can check your credit every week at no charge at com. This special benefit lasts through April 1st, 2021, barring any further changes.
If you receive funds you didn’t apply for, don’t respond to anyone asking for it back.
You should immediately report this issue to your state’s unemployment agency. If you are contacted unsolicited, this may be your identity thieves trying to pull an even bigger scam on you.
If you aren’t a victim but wish to have a helping hand in the future should you become one, we highly recommend subscribing to an identity theft restoration service. These services will do all of the hard work to restore your identity to 100% of its pre-theft status as well as reimburse any out-of-pocket expenses you may have incurred.
We hope that this article helped answer any questions about unemployment fraud you may have had. Thieves don’t stop stealing just because people are struggling. Unfortunately, tough times normally make these occurrences much more frequent. Stay safe.