(BBB) – Here in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has placed an unprecedented toll on the workforce. Millions of workers have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment assistance in record-breaking numbers.
Unfortunately, scammers are using phishing techniques to steal people’s personal information and file fake unemployment claims. The Department of Justice’s National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force reports that scammers lure people to their fake websites by sending spam text messages and emails. These messages look like they are from a state workforce agency and give people links to these fake sites. When people enter their sensitive personal information on these fake sites, scammers can use that information for identity theft.
Most victims do not know their identity has been used for unemployment fraud until they are contacted about an unemployment claim they never made.
How to Protect Yourself
Haven’t applied for unemployment? Report suspicious notifications. State agency workers will not send a text message or email inviting you to apply for unemployment benefits. If you receive a letter, email, or any other notification about an unemployment claim that you never made, be sure to report it. Check this list from the Department of Labor for your state’s contact number.
Check your credit report. An unemployment claim in your name means that scammers have your personal information. Be sure to check your credit report for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. In the U.S., you have the right to check your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only free crediting reporting service authorized by the Federal Trade Commission.
Consider freezing your credit. This keeps anyone from seeing your credit report without proof of identity. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to do this.
Set up transaction alerts with your bank or credit union. This ensures notification of any withdrawal above a dollar amount that you determine.
Sources: BBB.org, FTC.org: United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403 –
For More Information
The Department of Justice advises, if you receive a text message or email claiming to be from a state agency worker and containing a link or other contact information, please report the communication to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF Web Complaint Form found at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.