Unemployment Fraud Plagues Unemployment SystemsSubmitted by Kaizen Financial Advisors, LLC on May 22nd, 2020
Washington State appears to be the primary target of recent attacks on the unemployment insurance system across the country.
The Employment Security Department, which processes unemployment insurance applications and handles benefits in Washington State, has seen a rash of “imposter fraud” incidents. Individuals or groups have stolen people’s personal and employment information and used their Social Security number, address, and birthdate to apply for unemployment benefits
The Seattle Times Reported that “More than one million people have applied for unemployment in Washington since the Coronavirus outbreak and hundreds in Washington have been identified as targets of imposture fraud. The ESD temporarily halted payments for two days to get a better handle on the crisis.”
An ESD spokesperson said some people have discovered false claims made with their personal information after trying to apply for unemployment benefits. Others have discovered it after receiving a notice in the mail from the ESD about a claim being processed that they did not submit.
So, what should you do to protect yourself?
- Be on the lookout for any unexpected mail you may receive from the Employment Security Department of Washington State. If you do receive such a letter, report it immediately to the Employment Security Department. Their phone number is 800-246-9763. If you have difficulty in getting through you can also visit their web site and file a Fraud report. You can Click for the Employment Security Department There is a blue hyperlink button in the middle of the page to open a fraud report. Specifically, they will ask for the following information:
- Your full name
- Last 4 numbers of your Social Security number (never put your full SSN in an email)
- Your address
- Your date of birth
- Brief description of how you found out an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information
- If an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information, give them permission to deny and cancel it.
- If you are impacted but still working, contact your employer’s human resources department to document the incident.
- Have one of the credit bureaus place a fraud alert on your identity. If you do not have an upcoming major purchase, such as a home, consider freezing your credit. These services are free, and both make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.
- Three credit reporting agencies: Experian (1-888-397-3742), TransUnion (1-800-680-7289) and Equifax (1-888-766-0008).
- Request your free credit reports via AnnualCreditReport and review them at least annually for fraudulent activities
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Consider setting up an IRS account with your Social Security number to help prevent criminals from creating an account using your identity.
- Go to the Washington State Attorney General for Tips to Recover From Identity Theft or Fraud
Cybercriminal activity is a disappointing reality in today’s electronic world. It stresses the need to always use strong and unique passwords for all your web services. Consider using a Password Storage Application to store and generate unique passwords. Never click links on emails that you are not 100% confident in the sender and lastly, always be on the lookout for strange activity in your financial accounts.
If you have questions or concerns regarding cyber threats to your financial health, please reach out to your Kaizen Financial Advisor.