Unemployment Fraud  man in suit with shield icon

Scams Related COVID-19

The latest information from the FBI and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reveals that there has been an uptick in Unemployment Fraud cases. Here's what you need to know.

What is Unemployment Fraud?

Unemployment fraud involves using stolen identities to file fraudulent unemployment claims. The stolen identities are obtained through different sources such as data breaches, email phishing schemes, and public social media accounts.

Why Is Unemployment Fraud Prevalent?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in large numbers of unemployment filings. While roughly 44 million vulnerable Americans are submitting personal financial information, hackers and scammers are working harder than ever.  

How Do You Know if You've Been a Victim of Unemployment Fraud?

Many victims of identity theft related to unemployment insurance claims do not know they have been targeted, and may only learn about their compromised identity after:

  • They try to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits
  • They receive a notification from the state unemployment agency
  • They receive an IRS Form 1099-G showing benefits collected from unemployment insurance
  • They are notified by their employer that a claim has been filed while still employed. 

According to the FBI National Press Office Release (July 6, 2020), the five suspicious activities to recognize include:  

  • Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits
  • Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
  • Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment benefits
  • Unsolicited inquiries related to unemployment benefits
  • Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those government agencies

How to Help Avoid Fraud

  • Keep a close eye on your personal accounts and financial information
  • Do not share social media accounts or passwords, and use a variety of login credentials 
  • If you do need to file for unemployment, do so on a secure device and WiFi, and keep financial paperwork private
  • If you suspect you have been the victim of fraud, our Identity Theft Resource Center can help

What to Do if You Think You're a Victim of this Fraud

  • Do not discard any documents or evidence: This information will help you submit your claim. 
  • Email ODJFS to file your claim: Due to the uptick in claims, ODJFS is not currently handling claims by phone. Email responses usually come within a few hours.
  • Check your financial activity and contact your financial institution: You'll want to ensure you have no unauthorized transactions on your accounts. Comb through your transaction logs and statements, and contact your financial institution for any inconsistencies.
  • Change your passwords: You may want to consider changing the login credentials to your online banking portal and mobile app. You might also want to change passwords to any digital channels that house personal information (including social media). 

To learn more from the FBI regarding Unemployment Fraud and Identity Theft, visit the FBI Website. For any concerns or if you need assistance with your accounts, call us at 614.707.4000.