The Susquehanna Regional Police Department has recently seen an increase in Identity Theft cases, specifically with regards to fraudulent attempts to apply for unemployment benefits. Identity Theft is not a “victimless” crime, costing millions of dollars nationwide and locally to consumers, businesses, and financial institutions. Additionally, ID Theft costs people valuable time as they try to repair not only their accounts but their credit history and scores. It also takes away financial resources for those legitimate claimants. Criminals steal identities in numerous ways including: skimming devices used to clone your credit card (at ATM’s, gas pumps, or even a cashier using a separate card swipe to record your card’s info); retrieving credit card info from public or unprotected private WIFI; stealing mail/bills; fake websites; online phishing; phone call scams; and even some of those seemingly innocent games that we play on social media sites. This information is used to create cloned credit cards, apply for utilities and benefits, and obtain other services in your name. Once your personal information is stolen it is often sold on the “dark web” and will be purchased and used repeatedly.
What Do I Do When Someone Applies for Unemployment Benefits Using My Identity?
File a police report – contact your home police department for an incident number
File an online report Department of Labor and Industry/PA Unemployment:
https://benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx (at bottom of page, click report fraud)
FTC: http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
Contact the three (3) major credit bureaus:
Call the PA Fraud Hotline at (800) 692-7469
How Do I Protect Myself From Being Scammed?
-Never give out your personal information thru email or text
-Do Not open unsolicited emails or texts Pay attention to “official looking” website links and addresses for inconsistencies
-Check points of sales for skimming devices Limit/Control your credit card – Try not to allow your credit card to be taken out of your eyesight
-Retrieve your mail promptly
-Check your credit history at least once per year (use the credit bureau not a third party)
-Do not use third party companies that claim to help you apply for unemployment benefits
-NEVER pay for bills and/or services by using gift cards, iTunes, Green Dot cards, etc. – it’s a Scam!
-Do not provide maiden names, dates of birth, or personal other info that is commonly used for passwords on social media sites and games
-Never be afraid to ask questions or discontinue communication and contact the company directly by using information from an official source such as your billing statement.
As always, you can contact us anytime at 717-426-1158 to speak with a patrol officer in regards to questions about identity theft.