Unemployment Fraud Spreads due to COVID-19June 09, 2020
If your employee falls victim to a fraudulent unemployment claim, there are steps you should take. We explore here.
We have been notified recently that there are a tremendous amount of fraudulent unemployment claims being authorized in every state due specifically to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you receive one for an employee or if you should receive one yourself, there is a procedure you should follow. We dive in below.
Who qualifies for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act?
Unemployment benefits were extended under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act. Benefits are available to millions of Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes those who are not normally eligible, including self- employed, independent contractors and gig workers.
The number of weeks and amount of unemployment assistance you receive varies by state. Additionally, everyone receiving state unemployment benefits under the CARES Act qualifies for an additional $600 in Federal Unemployment Compensation benefits. These funds are available for any weeks beginning after the date the state enters into an agreement through the week ending July 31, 2020.
More about fraudulent claims
States across the country are being impacted by unemployment benefit fraud that could amount to billions of lost dollars. Many of these cases are tied to identity theft.
As one example, Washington State just recovered $300 million paid to criminals who used stolen personal information to file fraudulent unemployment benefit claims during the COVID-19 crisis.
What should you do if you suspect unemployment fraud?
- Your Human Resources Department will 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 or Human Resources.
- HR will also monitor your DUA and MassTax Connect Accounts daily to be aware of any unexpected claims.
- HR will ensure that you are in compliance with the latest Mass Data Security Laws (MGL 93H and 201 CMR 17.00).Impacted employees should apply 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 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.
- The employee should file a police report with his or her local police department (of note, this is part of the MGL 93H [the Massachusetts data security 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.
- Employees should also, if possible, file state and local taxes to prevent fraudulent tax filings and consider filing IRS Form.
- Employees may also want to notify banks, credit cards, health insurance and other locations where personal identifiable information resides.
If you need help identifying or navigating the steps to mediate the situation, we can help. Contact us.