Unemployment Fraud Scams on the Rise

As identity theft and unemployment fraud increase amid the turmoil of the current pandemic, it is essential that people understand what it is and how these scams can happen, as well as actions that can be taken for prevention and reporting.  Keeping track of your credit and identity is more important than ever!

What are identity theft and unemployment fraud?

Identity Theft is the most popular and profitable form of consumer fraud.  It occurs when someone uses your personal identity information (PII) such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

Collecting unemployment insurance benefits based on false, misreported, or unreported information is committing unemployment fraud.  It is essential that if you are filing a claim that you follow the requirements set by state law.  Otherwise, there can be serious penalties and consequences.

Why is there such an increase in unemployment scams recently?

Unemployment benefits were recently extended under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act. Millions of Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic have taken advantage of this benefit. These benefits are available to those who are not normally eligible, including self- employed, independent contractors and gig workers.  The amount of assistance, as well as the number of weeks it is available, varies by state.

Recently, U.S. citizens across the country have become victims of fraudulent acts –   stolen identities that lead to false unemployment claims.  The criminals steal a victims identity using a variety of methods such as the purchase of stolen PII (personal identity information), computer intrusions, cold calling scams, phishing schemes, and stolen data from social media.

Often victims of this identity theft related to unemployment insurance claims don’t realize they have been targeted until they try to file an unemployment claim or they are notified by their insurance agency, or are notified by their employer that a claim has been filed.

In a press release,  U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray noted that the public plays an important role in stopping COVID-19 fraud and urged everyone to remain alert about possible coronavirus scams. “If you are engaged in an online-only relationship and your paramour asks you to open a new bank account, or use your existing account to transfer funds, think twice. A fraudster posing as a romantic online partner could be using you and your accounts as a repository to launder stolen money. Don’t let a scammer turn you into a money mule. Be extra vigilant about online scams, and if the circumstances are suspicious get in touch with law enforcement right away.”

What do I do if I have had my identity stolen and suspect unemployment fraud has taken place?

There are several things you need to do immediately if you suspect unemployment fraud has taken place.

  • Contact your bank about the theft of your Social Security number or other PII.
  • Visit gov from the Federal Trade Commission to file a report and create a personalized plan for recovery.
  • Go to com to get a free copy of your credit report, add a fraud alert or freeze your credit on Experian, Equifax and TransUnion in one place.
  • If your Social Security Card is stolen, contact your local police department immediately to file a theft report. You should also contact SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 to request a replacement Social Security Card.
  • If you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) immediately to file a report and complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039).
  • If someone is filing for unemployment benefits using your personal information, alert your employer immediately.
  • It is important to contact the state in which the potential fraud took place. The US Department of Labor provides a list of phone numbers and web addresses.  This information will help states to act quickly to stop the improper payment of unemployment benefits.

While Jarrettsville Federal  Bank works to protect your banking privacy, you also play an important role in protecting your information. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your identity:

  • Keep track of transactions on your accounts by logging in to Jarrettsville Federal Bank, where you can view your activity as it is posted.  Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.
  • Request a copy of your Social Security statements at www.ssa.gov/mystatement to be sure that no one else is using your social security number for employment.
  • Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
  • Do not have personal information such as your Social Security number and driver’s license number printed on your checks.
  • Keep your new and cancelled checks in a safe place.
  • Do not leave your purse, wallet, checkbook, or any other forms of identification in your car
  • Shred or tear up any documents containing banking or credit information, especially pre-approved credit offers, before you throw them away. To opt out of pre-approved credit card offers, call 1-888-567-8688.
  • Keep your PINs and passwords a secret. Do not write them down or share them with anyone.

We value our relationship with you. Our products and services are designed with your best interests in mind. Our employees place the highest importance on protecting your information and preventing data loss.  Contact us immediately at 410 – 692- 5151 or visit our website at https://www.jarrettsvillefederal.com/  if  you notice any suspicious or unusual activity related to any of your Jarrettsville Federal Bank accounts.