Claiming Unemployment ? Beware of Scammers
Updated : April 10th, 2015
United States is one of the few countries in the World which provides temporary assistance to jobless workers in the form of unemployment insurance. The monetary compensation helps jobless citizens manage their basic expenses and run their family while they look for new job opportunities and explore career options.
As a responsible citizen of the country, one should not exploit the benefits by indulging in acts of fraud. Over the last few years, with the massive advancement in technology, fraudsters are manipulating state sponsored social schemes such as unemployment insurance programs to make financial gains. Scammers are stealing sensitive personal information to impersonate and claim on behalf of a genuine aspirant.
You must remain diligent…
What Should You Do to Stay Away From Scammers
1) File and claim unemployment directly with the state
UI payments system is designed to facilitate direct interaction between claimants and the unemployment division of the labor dept in your state. You can file and claim weekly dole online or by phone directly without any intervention of middlemen. The govt. does not charge any fee for processing or disbursing your weekly claims or engage middlemen to serve as touts in carrying out functions.
Imposters often use loopholes in the system and may contact you to offer assistance in enrolling for benefits. Do not disclose any personal information to such scammers. You can be soon be a victim of an identity theft. If you have any trouble filing for benefits or need help, pick up the phone and call the claims center. You can also lookup for resources online, on the labor department’s portal and be educated.
If you’re a first time claimant, know the eligibility requirement before filing. This equips you with complete information before filing.
2) Don’t Fall Prey To Phishing
Phishing is a technique where scammers send emails to internet users, pretending to be representatives of legitimate enterprises. These emails contain luring content and links to malicious sites where a victim may be asked to provide sensitive and personal information such as SSN’s, credit card information, bank account details etc.
As a jobless claimant, you may receive an email from an impersonator claiming to be a representative asking you to complete application to receive weekly benefits or provide additional information to expedite process work. If you think it’s suspicious, do not click on any of the links or provide sensitive information. Install only trusted software from known publishers.
Contact the customer service of the labor department to verify if the email was legitimate.
3) Secure your Computer & Key Documents
Fraudsters always scout for new methods to steal sensitive information. All physical documents like the SSN card, employment letters(appointment, relieving and payslips) be kept safe at a secure location in the house. Retrieve them only when required and file them back immediately after use.
Defend your computer against malicious software and virus attacks by installing a trusted anti – virus.Check for routine updates and scan computers periodically. Scammers may hack your computer to steal sensitive information which can be used to claim unemployment on your behalf without your knowledge.
4) Report encounters immediately
If you come across any of the instances stated and explained above, note down the specifics and report immediately to the labor authorities in your state. Your action will help curb scammers and plug leaks in the system. If you feel there was a compromise on your identity or documents were stolen or lost, inform the local law enforcement agencies instantly.
One can find related resources on the DOL website. They maintain exclusive & detailed information on how you can report suspicious activity when you claim unemployment insurance. States also have a dedicated phone line to address such queries.
Labor departments, law enforcement agencies and other federal organisations work in tandem to bring down scamming and other fraudulent activities. Certain states have enacted strict laws to bring scammers to justice.
If an acquaintance or a family member is claiming unemployment benefits on the basis of false information, you must advise them against doing so. Stringent checks and verification will lead to finding out facts at the time of processing the paperwork or later. There are strict penalties which includes prison sentence and hefty fine.