Be aware that criminals are using stolen identities to open accounts and file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits with state agencies across the United States. Many victims of this crime have no knowledge that criminals have applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in their name.
Signs that you may be a victim of this crime
You may only discover that you were a victim of this crime upon seeing the following red flags:
- You file a lawful UI claim on behalf of yourself and receive a notice that your claim was rejected because a claim was already received under your name
- You did not apply for UI benefits, but you receive a determination letter from your state of residence or another state regarding a UI claim filed under your name
- You receive a notification that you failed the security verification process for your UI claim
- You are told by a current or former employer that a UI claim has been submitted with your personally identifiable information (PII)
- In Ohio, if you receive a letter with sign-on information from Ohio Means Jobs or if you receive a Form 1099G or other correspondence from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
What can you do if you believe you have been victimized?
- If you learn that a UI claim has been filed in your name, and you did not file the claim, report it to the relevant state agency immediately. Reporting the crime immediately is important if the improperly disbursed UI benefits are to be recovered.
- If you are presently working, notify your employer of the fraudulent claim because they will also need to file documentation.
- File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud by going to https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form or by calling (866) 720-5721.
- In Ohio, report the fraudulent activity by going to https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft/
- In Pennsylvania, go to https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/Report-Fraud-Here.aspx
How can you protect yourself from fraud?
- Do not share your PII with unknown third parties. If someone you don’t know asks for your PII in order to perform some service for you, beware that the offer of services may be a scheme to collect your PII and use it for illegal purposes, including UI fraud.
- Follow good computer hygiene and cybersecurity practices. Ensure that the passwords to all of your financial and other accounts are unique and sufficiently complex—and change those passwords often. Wherever you can, add a second factor for authentication, such as a cell phone number, a security token or a biometric factor (such as a fingerprint or facial scan).
- Take advantage of credit monitoring services if you have been notified that your information was exposed in a data breach. If you do not have access to credit monitoring, use www.annualcreditreport.com, where you can get a free credit report from each credit reporting bureau once each year.
- Place a freeze on your credit to prohibit any new credit applications from being opened in your name. Visit the FTC credit freeze guide for instructions: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs
Call your SSB advisor for guidance if you think that you may be a victim of fraudulent activity.