Protecting your personal information has never been more important. When we think of “identity theft,” tax fraud and credit card fraud quickly come to mind. However, another kind of fraud that businesses and individuals should be aware of is unemployment fraud which can affect all kinds of organizations, big and small.

What’s Unemployment Fraud?

Generally speaking, unemployment fraud happens any time someone filing for unemployment benefits deliberately misreports information or neglects the terms of unemployment payments.

More specifically, we’re going to address a scenario where a fraudster uses someone else’s personal information to fill out a fake unemployment claim. The claim is sent to the Department of Labor, which then confirms the claim with the individual’s most recent employer. That employer can then confirm or deny that the claim is accurate and that the individual no longer works at the company.

If the individual does, in fact, still work at the company, then the claim is denied, and the Department of Labor locks the account associated with that social security number. As long as the employer accurately responds to the inquiry, this process will weed out any fraudulent claims that are trying to cheat the system.

Guidance for Employers

If your company receives a suspicious or fraudulent claim, we recommend you to immediately notify the Department of Labor, both by the form you receive and by calling the department directly. Most states have a fraud reporting contact available on their website. Maine employers can visit the State of Maine’s Department of Labor website for more information.

Furthermore, be sure to inform your employee that a claim has been falsely filed under their name. Provide the guidelines below so they understand what has happened and how to move forward.

Guidance for Employees

In some cases, individuals might never know that a fraudster has falsely filed a claim under their name unless their employer notifies them OR they attempt to file a true unemployment claim in the future.

If you do discover that a claim has been falsely filed in your name, here are suggested steps to take:

  • Go to your nearest Career Center (Check with your local Department of Labor to find your Career Center). Bring your Social Security Card and a Photo ID that can be scanned in for verification. This needs to be completed in person to ensure authenticity.
  • Follow up with the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Claims department by phone the next day to confirm they received the information.
  • Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to receive any unemployment benefits you may claim as your true self, and your account will no longer be locked in the system.

The biggest takeaway for employers and employees: Report, report, report! If something looks suspicious, be sure and let the Department of Labor know. This is the best path forward for your company and your employees.