By Mark Knackendoffel on January 21, 2021
By Mark Knackendoffel, CEO
In November, like so many law-abiding citizens, I personally became a target of unemployment benefits fraud, which has plagued the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It was interesting for me, as I received two letters related to the fraudulent claim. The first was sent to me as the former Employee acknowledging “my” claim for unemployment benefits. The other was sent to me as the Employer of a former employee (Me!) who had filed for unemployment.
I immediately notified the KDOL of this fraudulent claim, in writing, of course. I also took nearly all the steps listed below, but have not yet received any acknowledgement.
Incidentally, to date, our company has received fraudulent claims involving about 30% of our staff, but to our knowledge, no claims have been paid.
What does it mean if you are a target of this scam?
Someone is likely misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and date of birth. Steps need to be taken to protect your identity and personal information.
What should I do if this happens to me?
If you get a letter concerning a fraudulent unemployment claim, please immediately take each of the steps listed below.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A TARGET OF A FRAUDULENT UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIM
1. Report the fraud to your Employer.
2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency. You can find state agencies here. In Kansas, you can do so at reportfraud.ks.gov. If possible, report the fraud online, which will save you time and be easier for them to process. Keep any confirmation or case number you receive. If you speak with an agency representative, keep a record of their name and the date of your conversation.
3. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next steps. These include placing a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit, getting your free credit reports, and closing any fraudulent accounts opened in your name. IdentityTheft.gov will also help you add a free extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report. These make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name. We don’t recommend opting for paid credit holds, which some credit reporting agencies may try to sell you. They are unnecessary.
4. Notify the Internal Revenue Service’s fraud hotline at 1-800-908-4490 or report here. 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.
5. Contact your Bank. Notify them of the fraud and seek their advice on account closure or security measures.
6. Change Passwords for all your financial accounts.
7. Review your Credit Reports regularly. And, as we’ve recommended for years, apply a “Credit Freeze” with each of the three credit reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
8. Monitor your earnings history with the SSA. You can set up an account at: socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. This is free and ensures your yearly earnings have been accurately reported. If something is wrong, you can immediately report it there.
What happens if the scammers obtain any funds using my information?
If you receive such improper benefits, make a report to the state unemployment agency and ask for instructions. Do not respond to any calls, emails, or text messages telling you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Your state agency will never tell you to repay money that way. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time!
Finally, if you ever have any concerns and are unsure what to do, please contact your Advisor at The Trust Company and we will be happy to assist.