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Police warn of rapid increase in unemployment scams


Pennsylvania – The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is seeing an increase in fraudulent attempts to apply for unemployment benefits using previously stolen identity information.

In fact, just within the past couple of days, our local police barracks have had dozens of reports of false unemployment claims.

This is a widespread issue affecting unemployment programs in every state and can affect children, retirees, workers, and legitimate claimants. Criminals frequently steal identities to commit fraud or to sell personal identifiable information to other criminals on the online black market, also known as the dark web. As a result, information stolen from one organization may be used by criminals to commit fraud against other organizations.

Signs of fraud include:

  • Individuals receiving unrequested unemployment paperwork from L&I.
  • Individuals receiving unemployment benefit payments they did not apply for from the Pennsylvania Treasury.
  • Employers receiving notice that a claim has been opened for current personnel who are actively working.

What to do when someone files for unemployment benefits using your identity:

File a form online:
Unemployment compensation fraud, use the “Report Fraud Here” link at the bottom of the page.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) fraud

File via phone:
Call the PA Fraud Hotline at (800) 692-7469.

File a report with police:
Contact police in the municipality where you resided at the time the unemployment fraud occurred/benefits in question were paid. The incident number or equivalent proof of law enforcement investigation must also be provided to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.

Start a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting www.identitytheft.gov.

Note: Failure to notify Labor & Industry of the fraud could result in an unjustified tax consequence at the end of the year.

How to protect yourself against unemployment scams:

  • Never give out your personal information over email or text message.
  • Do not open or respond to unsolicited emails or text messages.
  • Never give out your personal information on websites or social media channels – especially those that claim they can help you apply for unemployment benefits. Third parties can’t apply for your benefits.
  • Do not trust or rely on unemployment benefits information from unofficial websites – always visit www.uc.pa.gov for Pennsylvania unemployment program information.