Impostors are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to file claims for unemployment benefits using the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. Oregonians learn about the fraud when they get a notice from the state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits.
If this happens to you, it means someone is misusing your personal information, including most likely both your Social Security number and date of birth. It’s important for you to act fast. There are four steps you can take to help you protect your finances and your credit:
- Report the fraud to the Oregon Employment Department online at www.workinginoregon.org.
- Report the fraud to your employer.
- Visit www.IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery 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 also will 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.
- Review your credit reports often. For the next year, you can check your reports for errors every week for free through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
You need to know a few more important things:
If the scammer succeeds in obtaining unemployment payments, they are usually deposited to accounts the imposter controls. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person’s account instead. If this happens to you, the scammers may call, text, or email to try to get you to send the money to them. They may pretend to be the Oregon Employment Department and say the money was sent by mistake. This is known as a “money mule scam.”
If you do get benefits you never applied for, report it to the Oregon Employment Department. Do not respond to calls, emails, text messages, or messages on social media telling you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. The Oregon Employment Department will never ask you to repay money that way, and they will never ask for your personal identifying information via social media. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
For more information on fraud and scams related to the COVID-19 crisis, see www.oregonconsumer.gov/COVID-19.