Unemployment Compensation Fraud

Unemployment compensation fraud is a widespread issue and is impacting many employers across many industries in the tri-state area as well as throughout the U.S.  In PA, there seems to be some temporal correlation between an increase in fraudulent unemployment claims and the release of the state's new unemployment compensation system.

Indications that you may be a victim of unemployment compensation fraud include:

  • you've been contacted by Human Resources and told they have received a claim that you did not file

  • you've received unsolicited unemployment paperwork from the state

  • you've received payments (or a tax form) related to unemployment but have not applied for benefits

If the unemployment claim contains accurate information about you, such as your social security number and date of birth, there's a very good chance that you're the victim of identity theft (and/or your credentials for the new PA Unemployment Compensation site have been stolen).

If you find yourself in one of the scenarios above, you should consider the following

- Contact HR if they did not already reach out to you

- Report suspected unemployment fraud by visiting Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation fraud reporting websites:
   https://benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx  (and click on the 'Report Fraud Here' link)
       Keep any confirmation or case number you receive
    - You can also contact the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469 and leave a voice message
        If you discuss the fraud with anyone, keep a record of who you spoke with and when.

- Report the fraud to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting https://www.identitytheft.gov/ and clicking on 'Get Started'

- File a local police report in the municipality where you reside or resided when the fraudulent claim was submitted.  If possible, you should bring a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, a government-issued ID with photo, proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill) and any other proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.)

- Strongly consider setting up a Credit Freeze with each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian
  More information about Credit Freezes can be found here https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-freeze-credit

- Check your credit reports at the credit bureaus above by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.  You can do this annually for no charge at each of the credit bureaus (consider checking with a different bureau every four months).

- If you don't already have an account at the Social Security Administration (ssa.gov), get one now before the cybercriminals do!  And, once the account is set up, enable multi-factor authentication.

- Closely monitor credit card and banking statements for unexpected transactions (many financial companies allow you to set notifications for transactions above a certain amount as well as under other conditions)

- You should file your Federal and State tax returns as early as you possibly can each year (or quarter) to preempt potential cybercriminal attempts to file these forms fraudulently

Additional references with background, details and advice

Unemployment-Benefits Fraud Has Soared in the Pandemic. Here’s What to Do.  
[a Wall Street Journal account is available through the Swarthmore College Libraries at https://guides.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/magazines-sc/wsj]

Pa. updated its unemployment compensation system. Then cyber fraud spiked

U.S. Secret Service: “Massive Fraud” Against State Unemployment Insurance Programs

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