With unemployment skyrocketing due to the pandemic, scammers are trolling for your personal information to steal your benefits and identity. Learn how to spot them and how to stay safe!
Scammers file unemployment claims in someone else’s name to collect benefits, or they claim to be employed at businesses where they have never held jobs. Victims are then denied their own benefits.
Scammers sometimes impersonate government employees and offer to help victims complete their applications for unemployment insurance. These scammers are trying to get personal information to steal benefits from victims – or worse, to use the information to steal victims’ identities.
Some scammers request victims make payments to receive their benefits; the money goes directly to scammers and the victims’ unemployment claims are never filed.
Being asked for payment in order to receive unemployment benefits is a red flag. There are never fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance, and government officials never ask for personal information over the phone unless phone appointments are scheduled.
UNEMPLOYMENT MULE SCAMS
Scammers file unemployment claims in someone else’s name to have benefits directly deposited to another individual’s banking account.
Unsuspecting third parties (the account holders) believe they are helping “friends” collect their benefits. Scammers may ask for these funds to be withdrawn and then sent to them in the form of gift cards or money orders – and sometimes offer account holders to keep a small portion of the proceeds for their “help.” The funds are discovered to be fraudulently credited to account holders, who are then out the money when it is deducted from their accounts.
Practices to avoid:
Giving out account information for someone else’s direct deposit. Not only have you provided another party with your account information, but you have also provided authority to debit your account later.
Expecting “free money.” Being asked to send any money back to someone while keeping a small portion is a red flag.
Withdrawing unexpected deposits. Contact your financial institution if you receive unexpected funds in your account.
HOW TO FILE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN OHIO
Find frequently asked questions regarding unemployment eligibility, the unemployment application process, information related to the CARES Act, and the latest news by visiting *https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/.
Scammers present themselves as potential employers. They contact jobseekers by phone or email to trick prospective employees into believing they have jobs available, but their true goals are to collect personal information or to receive money.
Some common characteristics of jobseeker scams include:
Requesting personally identifiable information, such as a Social Security number
Offering a job that seems too good to be true
Not recognizing the caller or sender
Failing to list a specific job
Referencing an unposted resume
Offering to sell a jobseeker something like a “starter kit”
Offering to pay wages with bank account transfers
HOW TO REPORT A SCAM
Visit the Ohio Attorney General website at *https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) website at www.ic3.gov to report scams.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT
Visit the Ohio Attorney General Identity Theft page at *https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/IdentityTheft. Read and follow the instructions.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at www.identitytheft.gov or call 877-ID-THEFT. In addition, the FTC recommends that you:
File a police report. Also obtain a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
Notify one credit bureau and ask it to put a fraud alert on your credit report. Contact information for the national credit bureaus can be found on the FTC website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Request a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com and review it for any fraudulent activity.
Close accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
*Sensitive information should never be shared on a site without verifying its security. The hyperlinks above include the ‘s’ after the ‘http’ in the web address confirming its security.