Attorney General Maura Healey today advised residents to be aware of reports of consumer data being stolen by criminal enterprises to file fraudulent unemployment claims through state unemployment agencies nationwide, including the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
The AG’s Office has received nearly 300 calls from individuals claiming to have been targeted by unemployment fraud scams since the start of the pandemic, including reports of individuals fraudulently using the personal information of people who have not filed unemployment claims. The Office is actively working with the DUA, as well as local and federal law enforcement partners on this matter.
“We are working with our state and federal partners to determine the sources of these fraudulent claims and take appropriate action,” said AG Healey. “In the meantime, if you encounter one of these scams, stay alert, stay calm, and report this fraud.”
“Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are going only to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance,” said Rosalin Acosta, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. “We are working rapidly to respond to this scheme and urge individuals who may have had a false unemployment claim filed in their name to contact the Department.”
Due to a rise in these scams, the DUA has provided guidance and implemented additional security measures to protect individuals against fraudulent unemployment claims.
AG Healey recommends that consumers affected by these unemployment fraud scams take the following steps:
Report the Fraud: Make a list of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. Consider filing a police report with your local police department and get a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
Secure your Accounts: Change passwords on your email, banking, and other personal accounts.
Check Your Credit Report: Get a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions. You can request credit reports online from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or by calling 877-322-8228.
Freeze Your Credit: Place a credit freeze with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. A freeze prevents identity thieves from opening new lines of credit in your name. Call each of the credit reporting agencies at these phone numbers or visit their websites to freeze your credit.
Equifax: 800-349-9960 or freeze your credit online
Experian: 888‑397‑3742 or freeze your credit online
TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or freeze your credit online
Add a Fraud Alert: Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You can do this by contacting just one of the credit agencies to add an alert with all three agencies.
Keep Records: Take notes about all conversations and keep copies of all records.
Additional information regarding identity theft can be found at https://www.mass.gov/protecting-yourself-if-your-identity-is-stolen. The Federal Trade Commission also provides a step-by-step guide for reporting identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov.
AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Unit works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the state’s unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems.
The AG Office also provides support for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Call the AG’s Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465 or file a complaint online if you think your rights have been violated.
The AG has also created a new complaint form for employees to report unsafe working conditions related to COVID-19. Read the AG’s FAQs on employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 emergency and visit the AG’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can help during this crisis.