The pandemic has led to multiple waves of applications for unemployment benefits, and scammers are taking advantage of the situation to apply for benefits under false identities.
In this scam, imposters file for unemployment claims using the names and personal information of people who haven’t filed claims. The scammers then use recruits, often innocent participants who are looking to make some legitimate income, to receive direct deposits from the fraudulent transactions and forward the bulk of the illegal funds to the crooks. Victims find out about the fraud after receiving notice from their state’s unemployment office or their employer. The fraud may even occur through a claim made in another state's unemployment office.
Here’s what to do if you’ve become the victim of this scam:
- If you're a Massachusetts resident, start by reporting unemployment fraud online via a web form or email at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/report-unemployment-insurance-fraud. If you live in another state, you can Google “report unemployment fraud [your state].” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a link to state unemployment agencies on this page.
- Report the fraud to your employer.
- Visit identitytheft.gov to report the identity theft and continue to monitor your credit reports.
- File a police report with your local police department and get a copy of that report to provide to your creditors and credit reporting agencies.
- Change the passwords on your email, banking and other sensitive accounts.
- Contact your credit card companies, credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business and let them know you're a victim of identity theft. Request that fraud alerts be placed on your accounts.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions you see. By law, you're entitled to a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also reach them at (877) 322-8228. Note that during the pandemic, the three agencies are offering free weekly online reports through April 2021.
- Initiate credit freezes and fraud alerts with the three major credit reporting agencies. You'll only need to place a fraud alert with one of the agencies. They'll inform the other two agencies, but you'll have to freeze your reports with each agency:
- Take notes of all conversations you have and keep careful records.
- Avoid giving out personal information to anyone calling you on the telephone. Scammers may be calling you to obtain more personal information they can use to their advantage. If you believe the call is a legitimate one from your financial institution, hang up the phone, and look up a phone number from your bank statement, the back of your credit card, or from the contacts in your phone. You can call them back and verify that a legitimate call was initiated by the institution and not a scammer.
If you have any questions or concerns about your accounts with Hanscom FCU, please contact our Remote Support team at 800-656-4328.
We can help you review your credit report with a free Credit Score and Report Review*. Learn more here.
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- Scam Alert: Beward of the Fake IRS Refund Check
- Scam Alert: Things the IRS Will Never Do
*Note that Hanscom FCU's Credit Score and Report Review requires a hard pull on your credit, which will temporarily reduce your credit score.