LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- As a result of the pandemic, thieves are taking advantage of increased unemployment to collect benefits in the names of unsuspecting victims.
Experts are warning you to guard your personal information and report any suspicious activity as unemployment fraud is costing the U.S. Government billions of dollars.
“Based on the recent unemployment claims over the past year, scammers have looked at that as an opportunity to file unemployment claims in unsuspecting consumer’s names,” Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said. “Those that might have a social security number on, and that’s what we’ve been getting reports of is consumers getting aware of or getting notified that they filed for unemployment when they’re actually employed and haven’t filed at all.”
Scammers access the personal information they need for fake unemployment claims by purchasing it from the dark web.
“The dark web… it’s like the secret internet. If and when your information is compromised, your social security number, your full name, date of birth,” Babin explained. “A lot of times, scammers don’t want to do anything with that but sell it to some type of scammer or some other unethical person, and a lot of times that’s where people are getting this information so once they’re able to obtain that, they’ve been filing different claims for unemployment in people’s names hoping to collect some funds from the state.”
Scammers also use phishing techniques to steal consumer’s personal information for fake claims. Fake notifications are sent from financial institutions or government agencies to trick people into sharing their social security numbers and similar information.
“One of the biggest things that can happen is if somebody files unemployment in your name, of course, that’s an identity issue because they probably have your social security number,” Babin said. “But the other fact is that if and when you need to file unemployment because you’re actually unemployed, that could mess up a lot of those benefits for you in the future.”
Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau on how you can protect yourself against this type of scam:
- Report suspicious notifications by letter or email to state and federal agencies as well as law enforcement.
- Check your credit report for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. An unemployment claim in your name means that scammers have your personal information.
- Set up your transaction alerts with your bank or credit union. This ensures notification of any withdrawal above a dollar amount which you determine.
If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.