Pennsylvania state officials are reminding residents to be vigilant of unemployment compensation (UC) fraud and about the steps to take if they become a victim.
Across the nation, fraudsters have been applying for UC benefits using stolen identities that were obtained in data breaches that occurred outside of state government. There were more than 11,000 data breaches that caused the exposure of more than 1.6 billion records in the U.S. over a span of about 15 years.
Many individuals whose personal data was leaked during these breaches are unaware until a fraudster uses their identity to apply for unemployment benefits and they receive notification that a benefits application has been filed in their name.
The Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) utilizes numerous fraud-detection measures, including using virtual identity verification vendor ID.me to confirm the identities of all new unemployment applicants. Since the new UC benefits system went live in June, the department has prevented approximately $1 billion in state and federal dollars from being paid out to fraudsters.
L&I works with the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force and other partners, including the FBI, Homeland Security and additional law enforcement agencies, the state treasury and the state attorney general’s office, to identify and block new fraud methods and stop fraud attempts.
The Pennsylvania State Police advise residents who think they are a victim of UC fraud to not be embarrassed and immediately file a report with law enforcement. The sooner police know, the better the chances are of recovering a victim’s money and catching the scammers.