Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, unemployment benefit scams were already a major problem costing the states and federal government billions of dollars each year.  Part of the problem is that the federal government requires the states to pay claims within a few weeks even if the employer has not responded to confirm that the applicant for unemployment benefits is indeed eligible for those benefits.  As with so many identity theft crimes, this one starts with the theft of someone’s Social Security number.  Armed with that ammunition, the identity thief then applies on line for unemployment benefits, which are often paid before the legitimacy of the claim is confirmed.  In this way, this crime is similar to income tax identity theft where the IRS often pays out bogus refunds before comparing the W-2s and 1099s submitted by employers with the information submitted by the identity thief filing the phony tax return.  The payments are generally made by debit cards or direct deposit into bank accounts controlled by the identity thieves which make this crime simple to accomplish.

According to recent reports more than six million people have recently lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic and those seeking to apply for unemployment benefits are increasingly frustrated at the delays and difficulties they encounter in trying to apply for much needed unemployment benefits.  Complicating the problem are websites that purport to assist you in applying for unemployment benefits.  Many of these websites are bogus websites that ask for personal information not required in order to apply for unemployment benefits.  The people behind these websites sell your personal information to other companies who use the information for marketing purposes including telemarketing.  Even worse, however, are the fraudulent websites that take the information you provide and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

The best way to apply for unemployment benefits is online at your state’s official unemployment benefits website.  In order to avoid reaching a phony or bogus website, you can use this website set up by the U.S. Department of Labor that provides links to the official websites for each state’s unemployment benefit agency.  https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?location=DE&keyword=&persist=true&ajax=0

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”

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