The Department of Justice provides the following information about unemployment insurance (UI) fraud and several recommended steps to take if individuals suspect criminals exploited their identity.
The U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, coordinating with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, are investigating numerous fraud schemes targeting the unemployment insurance (UI) programs of various state workforce agencies (SWAs) across the United States.
In response to the unprecedented scope of UI fraud, the Department of Justice established the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force (NUIFTF). The NUIFTF is a prosecutor-led multi-agency task force with representatives from FBI, DOL-OIG, IRS-CI, HSI, DHS-OIG, USPIS, USSS, SSA-OIG, FDIC-OIG, and other agencies. The NUIFTF is working with SWAs, financial institutions, and other law enforcement partners across the country to fight UI fraud, and consumers should be vigilant in light of these threats and take the appropriate steps to safeguard themselves.
Who is at risk of becoming a victim?
- Those who have already been a victim of identity theft;
- Those who have had their personally identifiable information (PII) exposed in a past data breach; and
- Those who have given their PII to an individual who claims to facilitate the filing of UI claims with SWAs, often for a fee.
Red flags indicating you may be a victim of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims
- You file a lawful UI claim on behalf of yourself, receive a notice that your claim was rejected because SWA has already received a claim under your name;
- You did not apply for UI benefits but received a determination letter that an application has been received under your name;
- You received a notification that you failed the security verification process for your UI claim;
- You are told by a current or former employer that a UI claim has been submitted with your PII; and
- Report Unemployment Identity Theft.
What to do if you believe you have been victimized
- If a UI claim has been filed in your name without your permission, report it to the relevant SWA immediately. Please refer to the state-by-state list of “Where to file a report of UI Fraud” located in Unemployment Insurance Fraud Consumer Protection Guide, pages 3-4;
- If you are employed, notify your employer of the fraudulent claim because they also have to file documentation;
- File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
How to protect yourself from UI fraud
- Do not share your PII with unknown parties;
- Follow good computer hygiene and cybersecurity practices. Ensure that the passwords to all of your financial and other accounts are unique and sufficiently complex and often change those passwords. Also, add two-factor authentication wherever you can;
- Take advantage of credit monitoring services if you’ve been notified that your information has been exposed to a data breach. Use www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report from each credit reporting bureau once a year; and
- Place a freeze on your credit to prohibit any new credit applications from being opened in your name. Visit the FTC credit freeze guide at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs for instructions.
Be aware of fraudsters who have used stolen identities to file fraudulent claims for UI benefits and exploit the benefits provided in response to the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is a list of alerts related to UI fraud that will be updated as the NUIFTF issues additional alerts.