In the height of the COVID-19, many people were laid off from their jobs and the rate of unemployment claims increased. Several companies expanded their jobless benefits which sadly opened opportunities for fraudulent unemployment claims. Con artists or scammers’ newest style is to steal identification from their victims to file unemployment claims and get the benefits from their portal.

In America, obtaining unemployment claims using false information is illegal by the United States Department of Labor (DOL). According to the Labor Department inspector general’s office, more than $63 billion has been cashed out by frauds or scammers since March 2020. This means that Fraudulent Unemployment Claims have reached such dramatic levels and must be put to halt at once.

Experiencing Identity Theft is a serious matter and must be reported to the police immediately. As a current or former employee of a certain company, it is important that you check your unemployment account from time to time to check for any suspicious acts of filing claims. The issue cuts deep for victims because a case like this delays their legitimate benefits.

Signs that you are a victim of Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

Unfortunately, becoming a victim of an unemployment claim scam is difficult to detect until the damage has been done. Most people tend to find out about the issue when they receive a call from their employer or when they are trying to file a claim but the application is denied.

However, there are ways to know whether you are a victim or not. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  1. When you receive mail from a government agency regarding an unemployment claim or payment including unexpected debit cards bills.
  2. When you are still employed, a notice from your employer came stating that the company received a request for information concerning an unemployment claim under your name.
  3. When you receive an Internal Revenue Services (IRS) form 1099-G,reflecting in Box 1 the amount of benefits you “supposedly” receive. The form may come from a state in which you did not file for claims.

All these mentioned notices are the aftermaths when you file and receive unemployment benefits.

Thus, receiving such letters/mails unexpectedly and out of your knowledge indicates that someone hijacked your information to take advantage of your unemployment claims. You should report to your employer, state, or the police immediately to promptly take action over the case.

Tips to avoid Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

Any professional can be a victim of identity thefts. Whether you file for unemployment or not, it is important to take action and protect yourself from fraudsters. It’s time to stop giving opportunities to exploiters and scammers from stealing our money by following these guarding tips:

Tip#1: Be vigilant and don’t ignore the news

Staying on top of the ongoing news especially in this time of pandemic is highly essential to know the status of unemployment fraud and taxes. Additionally, tax season is as crucial as the unemployment-related topics because it is the time of the year when consumers determine if their personal information has been used to file returns.

Frauds relating to taxes and unemployment increase dramatically in almost every year. Therefore, following the news will help us to stay informed about the tactics and strategies of fraudsters, and recognize scammers better.

Tip #2: Study how fraudsters work

The common strategy of fraudsters to draw unemployment benefits is to use more than one person’s identity. Having to use more than one leads to a spike of activity in cities or states, making the theft untraceable. You must be vigilant and keep any unexpected letters or 1099-G tax form from any state to monitor the locations used by the fraudster.

Tip #3: Be alert and report fraud immediately

Given that you have received unexpected letters with reference to unemployment benefits that you did not file nor receive, the best action is to report to the authorities immediately. Yes, it may be stressful to handle such a case like this, but it is even more taxing to pay for something you did not claim.

Gather all the papers, emails, and credit reports relating to the issue and carefully monitor your account. You can also close any fraudulent accounts opened in your name with the help of the authorities. To name a few, here are some important steps to follow to report a fraud immediately:

  1. Go to your state’s Department of Labor (or message) fraud unit to report the problem.
  2. You may contact credit bureaus to freeze your credit reports.
  3. Report to your employer and state unemployment agency regarding the fraudulent claim and visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call 877-ID-THEFT to file a complaint.

Tip #4: Look for Identity Theft Monitoring Programs

A fraudulent unemployment claim could happen to anyone and sure enough, there is no stopping it once your information lands into the wrong hands. Nevertheless, there are services that add protection to your personal information, making it difficult for fraudsters to hack it.

Moreover, investing in this type of service also offers support identity restoration – the process of fighting fraud and receiving reimbursement from the losses. Some of the famous programs that offer credit monitoring are: IdentityForce, Privacy Guard, Experian IdentityWorks, etc.

Signing up for this type of program will add more protection to your credit and help you be alert for any vulnerability on your account.