Unemployment Identity Theft Explodes in the United States

A SCARS Special Report

Phishing scheme targets unemployment insurance benefits and PII

Scam Victims Need To Be Especially Careful

Have you gotten an alarming text message about your unemployment insurance benefits from what seems to be your state workforce agency? You’re not alone. Identity thieves are targeting millions of people nationwide with scam phishing texts aimed at stealing personal information, unemployment benefits, or both.

The phishing texts try to dupe you to click a link to “make necessary corrections” to your unemployment insurance (UI) claim, “verify” your personal information, or “reactivate” your UI benefits account. The link takes you to a fake state workforce agency (SWA) website that may look very real. There, you’re asked to input your website credentials and personal information, like your Social Security number. Fraudsters can use the information to file fraudulent UI benefits claims or for other identity theft.

If You Were The Victim Of A Scam?

If you were the victim of a scam then the scammers already know you, and they may know a lot about you! In fact, they already have used your identity to file a fraudulent unemployment claim under your name!

If you have been involved in a scam it is important that you protect your financial identity, but especially with your state. After all, if the state believes that you have committed unemployment fraud they will send the police to your door to arrest you! Avoid that by calling your state agency and asking about your current unemployment account status. You can use the directory below to contact them.

Phishing Examples

Here are examples of some of the phishing texts:

Unemployment Identity Theft Explodes in the United States 1

A Surge In Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

U.S. States have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities that were accessed or purchased from past data breaches, the majority of which occurred in previous years and involved larger criminal efforts unrelated to unemployment. Criminals are using these stolen identities to fraudulently collect benefits across multiple states.

For information and reporting other types of unemployment fraud, including claimant fraud or employer fraud, visit our Report Unemployment Fraud page.

Protect yourself. Know that state agencies do not send text messages asking for personal information. If you get an unsolicited text or email message that looks like it’s from an SWA, don’t reply or click any link. If you’re not sure, contact the SWA directly using the State Directory below for Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft.

If you think you may have entered your personal information into a fraudulent website, visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out how to make it harder for an identity thief to misuse your information.

You can report a suspicious text message or email claiming to be from an SWA to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by completing an NCDF Complaint Form or by calling (866) 720-5721. You can also report this at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Signs That You May Be A Victim Of Unemployment Identity Theft

Most victims of unemployment identity theft are unaware that claims have been filed and/or that benefits have been collected using their identities. Many people only find out unemployment identity theft occurred when they receive something in the mail, such as a payment or state issued 1099-G tax form that’s incorrect or for benefits not received.

Sample form from the IRS.gov website: IRS form Certain Government Payments 1099-G

You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you received:

  • Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment and you did not recently file for unemployment benefits. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
  • A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you weren’t expecting. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds your records for the unemployment benefits you did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which you do not live or did not file for benefits.
  • While you are still employed, a notice from your employer indicating that your employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name.

Are You A Victim Of Unemployment Identity Theft?

  1. Report unemployment identity theft to the state where it occurred. Use the  directory below, to report it to the state.
    • You may not receive an immediate confirmation from the state when you submit a report. Time estimates for how long this process takes vary by state.
    • The state may require additional documentation (like filing a police report or a sworn affidavit) in order to open an investigation; they will review your case and make a determination. Each state has different requirements and a different process for investigating identity theft.
    • If you received a 1099-G tax form for benefits you didn’t receive, the state will need to issue you a corrected 1099-G tax form and will update the tax record with the IRS on your behalf.
  2. When you file your income taxes, ONLY include income you actually received. Do not wait to receive a corrected 1099-G to file your taxes.
    • The processing of your tax return should not be delayed while your report of unemployment identity theft is under investigation.
    • If you have not filed your taxes yet, do not report the incorrect 1099-G income on your tax return.
    • If you have already filed your taxes, do not file an amended return. The IRS will issue additional guidance regarding your next steps. Refer to the Identity Theft and Unemployment Benefits page on IRS.gov for updates and additional tax filing information.
  3. Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit opened. You can request free credit reports every week from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) through AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228; you will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
    • Consider freezing your credit. It’s the best way you can protect against having new accounts opened in your name. Visit the Credit Freeze page on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
  4. Report unemployment identity theft that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud. In addition to reporting with the state, reporting with the National Center for Disaster Fraud helps law enforcement stop future unemployment identity theft. Filing this report with the National Center for Disaster Fraud will also notify the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating unemployment fraud. You may not receive a response back after submitting this information.

Report Unemployment Identity Theft

State Directory for Reporting Unemployment Identity Theft

Refer to each state’s specific guidance around reporting unemployment identity theft. Some states may refer to unemployment as “reemployment assistance” or may refer to identity theft as “imposter fraud”.

Never send personal information or documents to unverified sites or in response to requests from social media. The resources below have been verified by state and federal governments.

State Directory

State Online Reporting Phone Number
Alabama Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-392-8019
Alaska uifraud@alaska.gov 1-877-272-4635
Arizona Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-251-2436
Arkansas Report Unemployment Identity Theft 501-682-1058
California Report Unemployment Identity Theft Identity Theft: 1-800-229-6297
1099-G Identity Theft: 1-866-401-2849
Colorado Report Unemployment Identity Theft 303-318-9035
Connecticut Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-894-3490
Delaware BPC_FRAUD_UNIT@delaware.gov 302-761-8397
District of Colombia BPC.UM@dc.gov 1-877-372-8360
Florida Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-833-352-7759
Georgia Report Unemployment Identity Theft 404-232-3440
Hawaii 1-833-901-2272 (Toll Free)
1-833-901-2275 (Toll Free)
808-762-5751 (Local)
808-762-5752 (Local)
Idaho Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-877-540-8638
Illinois Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-814-0513
Indiana Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-891-6499
Iowa Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-866-239-0843
Kansas Report Unemployment Identity Theft 785-291-6059
Kentucky Report Unemployment Identity Theft
Louisiana Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-201-3362
Maine Report Unemployment Identity Theft 207-621-5154
Maryland Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-492-6804
Massachusetts Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-877-626-6800
Michigan Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-866-500-0017
Minnesota Report Unemployment Identity Theft 651-296-8715
Mississippi safe@mdes.ms.gov 601-493-9427
Missouri Report Unemployment Identity Theft 573-751-4058, Option 5
Montana Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-888-556-4677
Nebraska Report Unemployment Identity Theft
Nevada Report Unemployment Identity Theft 775-684-0475
New Hampshire Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-852-3400 ext. 84016
New Jersey Report Unemployment Identity Theft 609-777-4304
New Mexico id.verify@state.nm.us 1-877-664-6984
New York Report Unemployment Identity Theft
North Carolina Report Unemployment Identity Theft 984-465-9224
North Dakota 701-328-1680
Ohio Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-833-658-0394
Oklahoma Report Unemployment Identity Theft Identity Theft: 405-525-1500
1099-G Identity Theft: 405-521-6099
Oregon Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-877-668-3204
Pennsylvania Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-692-7469
Puerto Rico Report Unemployment Identity Theft
Report Pandemic Unemployment Identity Theft
Rhode Island Report Unemployment Identity Theft
South Carolina Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-866-831-1724
South Dakota RAFraud@state.sd.us 605-626-7649
Tennessee bpc.investigations@tn.gov 615-645-3893
Texas Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-252-3642
Utah Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-888-848-0688
Vermont Report Unemployment Identity Theft 802-828-4104
Virginia Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-782-4001
Virgin Islands 1-340-715-5711
Washington Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-246-9763
West Virginia reportunemploymentfraud@wv.gov 304-433-8790
1-800-252-JOBS, Option 5
Wisconsin Report Unemployment Identity Theft 1-800-909-9472
Wyoming Report Unemployment Identity Theft 307-235-3658

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