In the Wake of COVID-19, A New Unemployment Scam Warning

The surge in unemployment across the United States due to the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in scammers making fraudulent claims and recruiting participants to accept these deposits.

Fraudsters are using stolen identities to apply for phony unemployment claims, then having these funds deposited electronically into another account that belongs to an individual who has unknowingly gotten involved through one of a variety of schemes.

Even if you are an unwitting participant in an unemployment scam, you can still face legal consequences for obtaining benefits that you aren’t entitled to receive.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

 

Be alert.

If something sounds too good to be true, it often is. Fraudsters rely on romance scams, get-money-quick job offers, and other financial schemes that originate online to recruit participants for these illegal transactions. Think twice before accepting a deposit from an unknown source, even if it seems legitimate. 

Know the source.

Do not accept deposits from unknown individuals. Many of these unemployment schemes involve large ACH deposits from legitimate sources referencing a name that does not match yours.

Some scammers have even created fake sites to fool you into sharing your personal information or trick you into getting involved in a scheme. Be careful not to submit your personal information on a fake site or via a fake email. Whether you’re logging in, making a payment, or just entering your email address, check that the URL on the website starts with “https.”

If you have been contacted by the New York State Department of Labor about unemployment benefits you did not apply for, be aware of the possibility that you may be a victim of identity theft.

The bottom line: be extra-careful in protecting your personal information in any instances where you are being asked to provide your personal details, whether you are filing for unemployment or not.

If you feel you may be a victim of unemployment benefits fraud you should report any incidents to the New York Department of Labor.