Over the past few weeks, four people, including HRS team members or their spouses, have been the victims of unemployment benefits fraud. It’s a scary feeling. We wanted to walk you through what happens, and give you a list of steps to take if this happens to you.
It all started with a notice from the Kansas Department of Labor
The Kansas Department of Labor sends a notice saying, “Your application for benefits has been received and is being processed.” You know that sinking feeling you get in your stomach? Multiply that times ten. Why? Because to file an unemployment benefits claim, the scammer has to know your social security number, employer, annual compensation and other personal details.
The first step is to report the fraudulent claim to the Kansas Department of Labor. Their fraud department gives you a list of things to do to protect yourself from further identity theft activity. They also report the problem to the local police. The police provide a police report number (and another list of things to do to protect yourself.) The Kansas Department of Labor includes that case number in the email they send.
Here is one of the emails we received from the Kansas Department of Labor:
Thank you for your report. The Kansas Department of Labor will use the information you provided to stop the fraudulent unemployment claim and begin investigating potential criminal activity. Your police report case number for this matter is: 2020-########.
Because your Social Security Number (SSN) has been compromised, you will want to notify all three major credit reporting bureaus and request a “fraud alert” on your credit report. (Note, it seems that you only have to contact one of these reporting bureaus. When you place your free, one-year fraud alert, they must report this to the other two companies.)
The credit reporting bureaus are:
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box. 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
National Consumer Assist
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Banks and Credit Card Companies
You may also want to contact your banks and credit card companies. Follow their advice as to whether you
should close your account.
Social Security Administration
You should 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.
Internal Revenue Service
Since someone used your SSN to report employment earnings, you’ll want to notify the Internal Revenue
Service’s 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. You can go to http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html for additional IRS information. Call 1-877-487-2778, between 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., Eastern time.
Federal Trade Commission
In addition, please go to reportfraud.ftc.gov to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and reference the case number provided above.
We sincerely hope that this kind of fraud/identity theft doesn’t happen to you. Sadly, the odds are much higher than normal that this could happen. There are many reasons for this including the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, payments moving online, increase in digital banking services, more sophisticated fraud tactics, and unclear legal jurisdiction of cross-border fraud.
It takes a lot of work to go through the steps listed above to make sure nothing else happens. We strongly recommend you pay attention to your credit reports. Good luck!