Be On Alert for National Unemployment Insurance Scam

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Be On Alert for National Unemployment Insurance Scam

Economy HR & Employment Law News | May 27, 2020
By: Brad MacDougall

Associated Industries of Massachusetts today warned employers and workers to be on alert for a national scheme in which scammers are using stolen person information to file fraudulent unemployment claims in Massachusetts.

The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Wednesday that criminal enterprises with access to stolen personal information from prior national data breaches were attempting to file large numbers of unemployment benefit claims through the Department of Unemployment Assistance system.

AIM members began contacting the association last Thursday regarding letters that their employees received from the Commonwealth’s Department of Unemployment assistance (DUA) reporting that their “alleged claim” for Pandemic Unemployment assistance (PUA) was approved.

None of these employees had applied for PUA benefits and were fully employed at the time of the notification. AIM notified the DUA and Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta and her staff worked over the weekend to provide develop tools for employers and employees. 

The Department of Unemployment Insurance issued a statement today regarding a nationwide unemployment insurance scam

Scammers have been effective in other parts of the country defrauding the unemployment systems in various states.  The Seattle Times recently reported that the state of Washington recently became award of an international scam that targeted the state’s unemployment system costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Because this appears to be an illegal use of personal information, the DUA has also advised that the employees take the lead with filing UI fraud reports to avoid conflicts with potentially valid UI claims.   AIM experts suggest that employees and employers work together to address the scam by reviewing the Department of Unemployment Assistance tools here and the following checklist of steps: 

What can employers do? 

  1. Alert employees via email, text or other regular communication that if they receive such a letter to contact Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form or to call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800 
  2.  Employers should also monitor their DUA and MassTaxConnectAccounts daily to be aware of any unexpected claims.
  3.  Employees should ensure that they are in compliance withthe latest Mass Data Security Laws (MGL 93H and 201 CMR 17.00).
  4.  Employers could considersharing information or links to the credit monitoring services or consider adding credit monitoring services as an employee benefit. 

What should an employee do?

  1. The employee should submit a report through the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form or to call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800..
  2. The employee shouldapply for a credit freeze at the major credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian and Equifax). In addition to contacting their lenders, consumers may request their free weekly credit report at annualcreditreport.com, to monitor information posted to their credit report. For example, through myEquifax, consumers have access to an additional six free credit reports a year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides consumers with the ability to provide a 100-word statement to their credit report, as well as dispute any inaccuracies on their credit report. 
  3. The employee shouldfile a police report with his or her local police department (Of note, this is part of the MGL 93H [the Massachusetts data security law] law). Once the report is received, the police department creates a record, which the individual or employer can use to report to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
  4.  Employees should also, if possible, file state and local taxes to prevent fraudulent tax filings and consider filing IRS Form.
  5.  Employees may also want to notify banks, credit cards, health insurance and other locations where personal identifiable information resides.
  6.  Employees may want additional credit monitoring services.

If you need assistance, please contact the AIM Employer Hotline at 800-470-6277.