States across the nation have seen a significant surge in Unemployment Insurance benefit fraud, largely in association with identity theft. Although there has not been a breach of information stored by DES, fraudsters are using phishing scams, previous corporate data breaches and other tactics to collect information from individuals across the country and file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.
In Arizona UI fraud is a class VI felony. If you knowingly make a false statement or withhold information in order to collect UI benefits to which you are not entitled, the Arizona Department of Economic Security may take civil or criminal action against you.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, and somebody has claimed benefits under your name, contact your local authorities and submit a fraud report online.
Recognizing Possible Fraud and Identity Theft
Fraudsters have been using stolen personal information acquired from data breaches to sign others up for UI or PUA benefits.
- For workers - If you received any messages or correspondence that you filed a claim you did not file, or if you receive an Electronic Payment Card (EPC) without applying for UI or PUA
- For employers - If you notice any employees still working receive UI or PUA benefits
Individuals who receive notification of unemployment assistance benefits for which they did not apply may be the victim of identity theft for those who seek to obtain fraudulent benefits. (Notification is issued to the address used in the claim when direct deposit information could not be validated. Previously, electronic payment cards were automatically issued to the address.) Individuals who suspect UI fraud or believe they may have been a victim of identity theft used to file a fraudulent claim can submit a report to DES at fraud report online application. When reporting fraud, individuals should provide identifying information in the web form that will help locate the claim in our systems. This includes SSN, full name (as it appears on the documents received from the UI program), and mailing address where the documents were received. Individuals are advised to destroy cards they erroneously received. Once DES is able to locate the fraudulent claim, we can address the funds that were issued on the card, and do not need the card returned.
Protect yourself From Fraudsters
Fraudulent claims can be filed using stolen information. To prevent identity theft and UI fraud:
- Beware of phishing scams
- Phishing is where somebody sends information through what looks to be a legitimate source (email, mail, phone). Ensure you know who you are communicating with
- Only provide information to DES representatives
- Monitor data breaches through credit reporting bureaus and other agencies
- Keep your security software up to date (Source: Norton)
- Don’t wire money
- DES will never charge you for UI services
- Do not let anybody you do not know assist you with your claim unless that person is a DES representative
- Don’t rely on information from unofficial websites