Scammers are once again taking advantage of a bad situation and have hatched up several new schemes during the coronavirus pandemic. Recently a group of online thieves collected millions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits from COVID-19 economic relief efforts.
Thieves accessed data from Interactive Data LLC, a Florida-based data analytics company that compiles consumer data for a range of clients including law enforcement, debt collectors and others. You can read more about this incident on the KrebsOnSecurity website.
The Department of Labor has discovered online criminals are posing as DOL employees on legitimate DOL Facebook unemployment pages. The criminals offer to help desperate citizens get their unemployment funds that have not been paid. After slyly pulling personal information out of the victims, they request payment for their services via gift cards.
Another scam targeted Kansas government employees (who were not furloughed) indicating that they had received a notice of filing an unemployment claim when the individual had not filed nor was entitled to unemployment. If you fall victim to one of these scams, you are encouraged to file a complaint on the Kansas DOL website. Other states have similar fraud reporting sections on their websites.
Below are steps you can take if you are the victim of fraudulent activity:
- Notify all three major credit reporting bureaus and request a “fraud alert” on your credit report:
- Contact your banks and credit card companies. Follow their advice as to whether you should close your account.
- Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-269-0271. Order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) in order to check the accuracy of your work history on file with the SSA.
- Notify the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) fraud hotline at 1-800-908-4490. Request a copy of your Wage and Income Transcript from the IRS. You will need to report and dispute any fraudulent earnings listed on the Wage and Income Transcript. Click here for additional IRS information. Call 1-877-487-2778, between 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., Eastern time.
- Go to www.ftc.gov to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.