The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) issued the below fraud alert on June 16, 2020. As a result of continued attempts by fraudsters, DWD is reminding you of this information. DWD is also asking that all claimants do these two things BEFORE filing your voucher:
- Change your password in Uplink to something no one else will know and something that you have not used in the past on other sites (use the password reset option on the Uplink homepage); AND
- Check your payment election status to ensure it is the payment election that you chose; if you chose direct deposit to your bank account, ensure that the correct bank account is listed. If it is not, immediately fix it. It is recommended that you check this each week prior to completing your weekly voucher.
The below is an excerpt from the June 16th fraud alert (see bottom of page) that was issued to notify those who have filed for unemployment insurance benefits in 2020 that they need to protect their personal information from potential scammers. Please be vigilant as fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to steal personal information.
The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General has discovered that scammers are sending emails in an effort to steal claimants’ passwords, account numbers, and/or Social Security numbers. With this information they can gain access to email, bank, or other accounts.
The scammers are sending emails using the names of companies or individuals familiar to claimants. They use familiar icons, folder names, and programs to trick claimants into providing their personal information to them.
Claimants can protect themselves by hovering over the links scammers include in the emails, but not clicking on it, to see where it will take them. Most scammers will use a URL shortened to hide the website’s true identity. You can also call the sender to inquire if the email is legitimate. The links send the victim to a webpage, which looks like a Microsoft SharePoint website. It further requires the user to sign-in using a Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo! or other user account. Once you have signed into a personal account, the scammers will obtain your username and password. They will have access to the files you have stored online and your contact lists. They may use this contact list to send the same scam email to your friends and family. The scammers may use your personal information to collect unemployment insurance in your name or change your bank account number to one of their own.
Additionally, it has recently been reported that the FBI has seen a spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims complaints related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic involving the use of stolen personally identifiable information (PII). Here is an excerpt from a recent article:
U.S. citizens from several states have been victimized by criminal actors impersonating the victims and using the victims’ stolen identities to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims online. The criminals obtain the stolen identity using a variety of techniques, including the online purchase of stolen PII, previous data breaches, computer intrusions, cold-calling victims while using impersonation scams, email phishing schemes, physical theft of data from individuals or third parties, and from public websites and social media accounts, among other methods. Criminal actors will use third parties or persuade individuals who are victims of other scams or frauds to transfer fraudulent funds to accounts controlled by criminals.
The FBI advises the public to be on the lookout for the following suspicious activities:
- Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits
- Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
- Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance
- Unsolicited inquires related to unemployment benefits
- Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those of government agencies
Tips on how to protect yourself:
- Be wary of telephone calls and text messages, letters, websites, or emails that require you to provide your personal information or other sensitive information, especially birth dates and Social Security numbers. Be cautious with attachments and embedded links within email, especially from an unknown email sender.
- Monitor your bank accounts on a regular basis and request a credit report at least once a year to look for any fraudulent activity. If you believe you are a victim, review your credit report more frequently.
- Immediately report unauthorized transactions to your financial institution or credit card provider.
- If you suspect you are a victim, immediately contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records. Additionally, notify the Internal Revenue Service by filing an Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) through irs.gov or identitytheft.gov.
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft related to fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, report the fraud to the Indiana State Police or other law enforcement, DWD via this page, the IRS, credit bureaus, and your employer’s human resources department. The FBI also encourages victims to report fraudulent or any suspicious activities to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. You may consult identitytheft.gov for help in reporting and recovering from identity theft.