Unemployment fraud is on the rise, but there are ways to protect your information
Keep track of your financial data
Last updated 6/5/2020 at 12:22pm
Since the beginning of May, a surge of unemployment fraud claims leading to identity theft have occurred throughout Washington state and across the nation.
According to reports from the Mill Creek Police Department for the week of May 15 to 21, almost 80 reports of similar cases were made that scammers had somehow gained access to personal information and used it to file for fake unemployment claims.
Since early March, a stream of job losses linked to the COVID-19 pandemic has left people nationwide in dire situations. A total of 1,996,257 initial claims in Washington have been filed, as of May 28, amid the pandemic according to the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD). The department has paid out nearly $4.7 billion in unemployment benefits. "Our priorities from day one of this crisis have been to get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them quickly and expand eligibility so those impacted can get the help they need," ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a press release on May 28.
"In recent weeks, at the same time we have taken aggressive measures to tackle the increase of imposter fraud in our system, we have stayed laser-focused on helping every Washingtonian with a valid claim get the benefits they deserve."
State unemployment officials have recovered $300 million in stolen unemployment money.
However, it hasn't been an easy process clawing back the swiped cash. According to officials, the Secret Service had identified a well-known Nigerian cybercriminal fraud group to be the culprits.
Using information and identities that were stolen during earlier data breaches, fraudsters have taken advantage of the influx of legitimate jobless claims to cash in on the pandemic.
Here are some ways you can protect your personal information and financial data:
• Keep track of transaction histories and accounts where your personal information is registered;
• Create and account the state Employment Security Division before would-be hackers can;
• Learn how to place fraud alerts and security freezes to credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion;
• Monitor and protect personal and financial information such as bank and credit card accounts and passwords;
• Report any suspicious activities in these areas to the Mill Creek Police