As layoffs begin to rise in response to economic volatility, it’s important to become aware of unemployment imposter fraud, which occurs when fraudsters file an unemployment claim using another person’s personal and employment information. Unemployment imposter fraud is a form of identity theft, and it becomes much more popular in times of high unemployment applications. Here is an overview of red flags to look for, what you can do to help protect yourself, and what you should do if you suspect you are a victim.
What red flags indicate unemployment imposter fraud?
The number one red flag to look out for is deposits into your account that you were not expecting and may include “unemployment” in the transaction name. Cases of unemployment imposter fraud may appear on bank statements and may include someone else’s name within the details. Another red flag is receiving mail indicating confirmation of your unemployment filing when you have not actually filed for unemployment.
How can I prevent falling victim to unemployment imposter fraud?
Never give out personal information over the phone and ensure communication is safe and you know with whom you are talking when discussing private information. Keep an eye out for red flags by checking all your mail and all transactions and deposits on your bank statements.
Fraudsters are both actively scamming individuals to get their personal information and taking advantage of past data breaches to file fraudulent unemployment claims. There are multiple ways fraudsters could obtain information, so it is important everyone is on the lookout, especially if you know your personal information has been compromised in the past.
If you are filing for unemployment, make sure you are filing using your state’s or local office’s official website.
What should I do if I believe I am a victim of unemployment imposter fraud?
If you believe you are a victim unemployment imposter fraud, contact your financial institution immediately. If you received an unexpected deposit that appears to be an unemployment payment, do not spend the money, as you could be held accountable for it later.
Share any information you have on the fraud with your financial institution, including bank statements where the payments appear, any email or mail notifications you receive, and any suspicious, potentially related phone calls or messages you received recently. Your financial institution will use this information to investigate the fraud.
You should also report the fraud to your state’s workforce development agency. If you live in the state of Iowa, you may contact the Iowa Workforce Development Agency. Additionally, you may want to check with your local postal office to ensure mail has not been redirected to a different address without your permission and keep monitoring your bank statements and credit report. If you find other suspicious activity, such as requests for credit in your name that you did not authorize, consider freezing your credit.
During uncertain economic times, having to deal with identity theft can be extremely stressful. Understanding these warning signs can help you stop the scammer sooner and keep them from striking again. For more resources on identity theft reporting, visit the FTC identity theft website.