Whether you’re currently receiving unemployment benefits or not, having claims fraudulently filed in your name can lead to major headaches. Unfortunately, there’s been an uptick in these scams recently, making it even more important to know the signs and steps to take if you’re a victim. Read on to learn more about fraudulent unemployment claims and how to protect yourself.
What is a Fraudulent Unemployment Claim?
If a scammer gets a hold of your personal information, like your Social Security number, they can use it to file an unemployment claim in your name. They’ll then try to intercept the funds, such as requesting a check be sent to an incorrect mailing address.
Some ways criminals commonly get personal information for this purpose include:
- Sending false notices that you’ve won a contest or cash prize and need to enter personal information to claim it
- Advertising a quicker way to apply for unemployment benefits
- Encouraging use of a fake mobile app to apply for unemployment benefits
What are the Signs of Fraudulent Unemployment Claims?
Anyone can be impacted by fraudulent unemployment claims, whether you’re currently unemployed or not. There are signs you should be aware of that may indicate you’ve been targeted with this fraud, such as receiving:
- Unemployment paperwork from the Department of Labor & Industry or other government agency that you didn’t request
- Unemployment benefit payments that you didn’t apply for (this can be a check, direct deposit, or debit card)
- A tax form indicating you were paid unemployment benefits that you didn’t receive
Additionally, if you’re actively employed, your employer may receive a claim in your name if you’re a victim of fraud.
What Should I Do if I’m a Victim of Fraudulent Unemployment Claims?
If you suspect that a fraudulent unemployment claim has been made in your name, there are several steps you should take.
If you received a:
- Paper check – Do not cash it.
- Direct deposit payment – Do not use the funds.
- Debit card – Do not activate it.
To report the fraud:
- Follow directions from your appropriate state government agency. In Pennsylvania, this is the Office of Unemployment Compensation. You can report fraud online or by phone.
- File a report with your local police department.
- Notify your Human Resources department if you’re currently employed.
For more details about how to report this fraud in Pennsylvania, visit the Office of Unemployment Compensation.
Moving forward, you’ll also want to closely monitor your financial accounts for any funds that are incorrectly deposited and take the appropriate steps to return them.
How Can I Protect Myself from Additional Fraud?
If someone has the personal information needed to file an unemployment claim in your name, they may take other fraudulent actions, as well.
To protect your finances and identity from additional fraud, consider the following actions:
- Review your credit reports and report any unrecognized accounts or incorrect information. You can access free copies of your report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Initiate a fraud alert on your credit report. This lets lenders know your information has been compromised and requires them to take extra steps to verify the identity of anyone applying for credit in your name.
- Freeze your credit to prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name. This can be a helpful step; however, note that doing so will not allow you to open new lines of credit either until you lift the freeze.
Whether you’re a victim of this fraud or not, make sure you’re always making your best effort at keeping your personal and financial information safe. This means exercising caution when providing sensitive information, like your Social Security number or financial account numbers or PINs, and verifying any requests for such information before proceeding.
Work With Us to Protect Your Finances
Protecting your finances is a team effort. We have a team of trained professionals that respond to reports of fraud. We also provide tools to help you identify fraud, such as a free credit score service* to monitor your financial health, as well as account alerts that notify you of activity in your account
To learn more about what you can do to protect your finances, visit the Security section of our blog.
*PSECU is not a credit reporting agency. Members must have PSECU checking or a PSECU loan to be eligible for this service. Joint owners are not eligible.