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Make sure a scammer isn't getting employment benefits in your name

How are scammers doing this? They're filing claims for unemployment benefits, using the names and personal information of people who haven't filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits.

If this happens to you, it means someone is misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and birth date, said Seena Gressin, attorney for the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Consumer and Business Education. Gressin said to act fast using these steps to help protect your finances and credit:

  1. Report the fraud to your employer. Keep a record of who you spoke with and when.
  2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency. You can find state agencies here.
    • Report the fraud online, if possible. An online report will save you time and be easier for the agency to process.
    • Keep any confirmation or case number you get. If you speak with anyone, keep a record of who you spoke with and when.
  3. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps. These include placing a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit, getting your free credit reports, and closing any fraudulent accounts opened in your name. IdentityTheft.gov also will help you add a free extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report. These make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.
  4. Review your credit reports often. For the next year, you can check your reports every week for free through AnnualCreditReport.com. This can help you spot any new fraud fast.

In addition, the unemployment payments usually are deposited to accounts the imposters control. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person’s account, instead. If this happens to you, the imposters may call, text, or email to try to get you to send some or all of the money to them. They may pretend to be your state unemployment agency and say the money was sent by mistake. This a money mule scam and participating in one could cause you more difficulties.

If you get benefits you never applied for, report it to your state unemployment agency and ask for instructions.

Don’t respond to any calls, emails, or text messages telling you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Your state agency will never tell you to repay money that way. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer.

Copyright 2020, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist

Comments

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Sue

Dear Rita, scammers, low-life maggots...bet most of them are reprobate. Well if that be the case, they might as well party hardy, while they're living because of what's waiting at the end...yikes.

Amanda Smith

The people who work as nurses, the people who work as food workers, you know, the working class, the baby boomers abused their entire lives. Good luck boomers! You'll soon be dependent on those same nurses and food workers who you treated like shit. Maybe you boomer's shouldn't have treated working class and poor people like trash. What goes around comes around.

Carol Cassara

Oh my gosh. Who even knew this could happen? Yikes.

Jennifer

Unfortunately, anything meant to benefit people will also have its scammers. I wonder if they're trying this in Florida which is notorious for having the worst (as in we don't want to pay you any money, so you're going to jump through hoops, and then wait a month or more) unemployment systems in the country.

Baby_boomster

Good idea to check credit reports often. For a number of reasons.

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