The current pandemic crisis has set the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits at their highest levels since the Great Depression. Earlier this month, US News reported that more than 33 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Now the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers that even if they are still working, scammers may be using their personal information to claim their unemployment benefits fraudulently.
Station KTVZ in Lake Oswego, Oregon, reports that the BBB says there is an increased number of reports of unemployment fraud. Scammers are using workers’ personal information, including social security numbers, to file fake claims and collect the cash. The BBB reports that many workers who find out are entirely unaware that it’s happening until their HR department contacts them about the claims.
The BBB advises that some of the stolen personal information may well have come from earlier data breaches such as the Equifax data breaches in 2017 and 2019, both affecting more than 140 million consumers.
The BBB recommends that workers who discover that unemployment benefits have been fraudulently claimed on their behalf to contact their company’s human resource department immediately. HR professionals can then help those workers stop any payments from being processed and help resolve the situation if funds have already been paid out on their behalf.
Workers are encouraged to file a report with the police, contact their state’s workforce center about the fraudulent claims. To be safe, workers are encouraged to change their banking passwords and to review statements for any unfamiliar transactions carefully.
The BBB also recommends getting in touch with the three major credit reporting bureaus. Equifax, Transunion, and Experian, and inform them of the situation.
For more information for consumers about protecting their private information, go to the Better Business Bureau website at BBB.org