(UNDATED) – A growing number of scammers are filing claims for unemployment benefits using other people’s names and identities, Attorney General Curtis Hill said today. Over the course of 2020, he said, the Office of Attorney General has recorded an exponential increase in the number of consumer complaints involving this type of fraud.
The scammers are stealing personal information such as dates of birth, Social Security numbers and home addresses — and routing benefit payments to accounts over which the scammers have control.
“These deceivers steal the identities of others, who are generally employed, in order to file fraudulent claims,” Attorney General Hill said. “If someone uses your name in this fashion, you may learn about it from your employer or from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, which processes unemployment claims. In many cases, payments may already have been regularly deposited into someone else’s account by the time you learn of the fraud.”
From April 18 to May 18 this year, the Office of the Attorney General received just three unemployment-related identity theft complaints. Cases trended upward throughout 2020, and from Oct. 18 to Nov. 18, the office received 157 such complaints.
Certain patterns seem to indicate the scammers are targeting the identities of people they know are busy working during the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Hill said, such as doctors, nurses and others in health care.
While the wrongfully taken funds come from the public treasury, the person whose identity has been stolen by scammers can also suffer negative consequences. Besides having fraudulently filed for unemployment benefits, the scammers might also have the personal information needed to gain access to victims’ bank and other accounts as well.
In addition, if left unresolved, these instances of fraud could interfere with people’s legitimate efforts going forward to apply for unemployment benefits should they lose their jobs.
If you learn that your identity has been fraudulently used in a claim for unemployment benefits, you should report it to the Office of the Attorney General via this online form for reporting identity theft.
Additionally, you should report it to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development via that agency’s website. Finally, you should also file a report with local law enforcement and the Indiana State Police, which offers an online form that that can be filled out and emailed to uifraud@isp.IN.gov.
You may read more about this type of scam on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.