identity theft

Texans Stay Alert, Someone Might be Using Your Identity for Unemployment Benefits

This is the latest identity theft scam sweeping the country and officials encourage people to be vigilant

NBC 5 News

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office is the latest agency to warn Texans about scammers filing for unemployment insurance using someone else's personal information.

"This is unacceptable," said Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney. "At a time when people need help, they are having their identities stolen and fake unemployment claims filed. Stay alert, document any problem and report identity theft to your local police."

It's believed that scammers could have gotten personal information in recent data breaches and waited until now to use them.

Anyone who has an unemployment claim identifies them, but is currently employed, shouldn't ignore the situation. Many people learn they are victims when they receive paperwork about a claim they didn't file, or when their employer notifies them about a claim.

Texas Workforce Commission officials report an increase in the number of false claims filed and say they've boosted efforts to thwart fake benefit claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received more than 4.4 million unemployment applications. Of those, 611,000 claims were suspicious and most were blocked before benefits were paid.

Some steps to take if someone's identity is stolen are:

  • File an ID theft report with your local police department
  • File an ID theft claim with the TWC https://www.twc.texas.gov/reporting-fraud or contact the Fraud department at TWC.fraud@twc.state.tx.us or 800-252-3642
  • File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud at https://www.justice.gov/disasterfraud or call their hotline at 866-720-5721
  • Consider contacting a national credit bureau such as TransUnion, Experian or Equifax and put a fraud alert on your account or freeze your credit

Additional information about identity theft can be found at https://www.identitytheft.gov

"You have to be proactive," said Lloyd Whelchel, an assistant criminal district attorney and chief of the White Collar Crimes team. "You can't sit back and wait. Document everything and notify officials that you've been a victim. You need to clearly establish that this was not you."

To learn more about this new scam, click here.

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