Protect Yourself from Unemployment Benefits Fraud
Both the unemployed and employed are at risk of being victimized by unemployment benefits fraud. Criminals have targeted federal CARES Act unemployment financial assistance by submitting thousands of false claims to states nationwide, Indiana included.
The IndyStar reports that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is putting “holds” on recently filed claims in order to investigate their legitimacy. This precaution helps protect people from fraud, but it is also causing delays in providing payments to those who legitimately need the benefits. Though standard unemployment claims are at risk of fraud, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds are particularly at risk due to their reliance on “self-certification” of unemployment (eliminating the traditionally required employer check).1
People who have been victims of data breaches in the past are particularly vulnerable to this fraud, and those who are employed and unemployed are equally at risk.2
Here are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from unemployment fraud:
- Freeze your credit: if you haven’t taken this important first step, take a look at the FinPlans guide to freezing your credit. This guide and other resources can be found on our Information Center page.
- Consider creating an online account with your state’s labor department / unemployment website. This makes it more difficult for scammers to create an account with your information and makes it easier for state workers to detect fraudulent activity.
- Request your credit report often to check for suspicious activity. Now until April 2021, you can get a free credit report each week from annualcreditreport.com
If you find out that someone has filed for unemployment under your name, take these steps:
- Immediately report the fraudulent claim to your state’s labor department.
- The Indiana DWD webpage is here.
- Other states’ reporting pages can be found on the World Privacy Forum page.
- Notify your employer that the claim was made.
- File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud, on their website or by calling 866-720-5721.
Finally, take some time now to review your computer security and take further steps to avoid identity theft. Read two of our earlier blog posts for more details:
We at Financial Plans & Strategies hope you and your family are healthy, and we are committed to helping maintain the health of your financial life. If you have any questions about unemployment benefits fraud, or if you would like to speak with an advisor, please call our office at 317-882-7675.
- IndyStar, July 2, 2020. “Officials suspect fraud may be boosting Indiana’s tally of unemployment insurance claims”: https://www.indystar.com/story/money/2020/07/02/indiana-unemployment-fraud-falsely-inflating-claims-officials-say/5362622002/
- World Privacy Forum, June 24, 2020. “Stolen Unemployment Benefits: How to detect and resolve this form of identity theft”: https://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2020/06/stolen-unemployment-benefits/
- New York Times, July 2, 2020. “Fraudulent Jobless Claims Slow Relief to the Truly Desperate”: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/your-money/coronavirus-unemployment-fraud.html