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Midwest Heritage Warns of Unemployment Imposter Fraud

posted on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

An unfortunate side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the high numbers of people filing unemployment claims. While unemployment insurance exists to help people manage difficult financial situations, it can also be a target for cybercriminals to commit fraud. To help educate consumers, Midwest Heritage is releasing tips to avoid becoming a victim of what’s known as unemployment imposter fraud. 

Unemployment insurance is an important tool for people who are out of work and need financial assistance as they look for a new job. It is important to be aware of cybercriminals that try to take advantage of this crucial program. It is critical for all consumers to know how to protect themselves and what to do if they become a victim.

If You’ve Been Victimized

A consumer may learn they are a victim of unemployment imposter fraud through a notification from their employer that someone has filed an unemployment claim in their name. They may also receive communication from the state in the mail. If a consumer has already been victimized, they may discover that someone else is already using their name to collect unemployment benefits when they attempt to file an unemployment claim themselves. If you believe you are a victim of unemployment imposter fraud, take the following steps.

  • Report the fraud. Contact your employer, your bank, and Iowa Workforce Development to report the issue.
  • Watch your accounts. If you see a payment in your bank account that appears to be an unemployment benefit and you did not file a claim, DO NOT spend it. Report it to Iowa Workforce Development immediately to learn how to return the money or request your bank return the unemployment benefit payment if received via ACH.
  • Check your credit report. If a cybercriminal has attempted to file a fraudulent claim in your name, they have obtained some of your personal information through other means, such as a data breach. Request a credit report and review it for any suspicious accounts.

How to Prevent Yourself from Being Victimized

As with all types of cybercrime, the best way to prevent becoming a victim is to protect your data. Follow these tips to keep your data secure.

  • Be suspicious of any email, phone call, or direct mail requesting you to provide personal information, especially if the communication attempts to induce panic or threaten you into making a hasty decision.
  • Know how to spot phishing attacks. Cybercriminals know how to structure emails so they appear to come from legitimate or known sources. Carefully inspect any communication for misspellings or grammatical errors, which may indicate the email is fraudulent.
  • Do not click on links or download attachments in suspicious emails. If you receive an email and are unsure if it is legitimate, contact the company that appears to have sent the communication to verify whether it is legitimate.
  • Never give out personal information online or over the phone. Guard this information to keep cybercriminals from using it to steal your identity.