WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS SF) — The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday announced the launch of a new website for people who have been targeted for unemployment insurance fraud and identity theft, according to a press release.
The website also explains how and where people who have been victimized by such theft to report stolen benefits. the release said.
The new website at www.dol.gov/fraud gives key steps to help victims address issues that might arise because of previous identity theft and outlines steps to report the theft of unemployment benefits.
The department is working closely with other federal agencies and state workforce agencies to consolidate necessary steps and resources to help victims. Developers recruited actual unemployment benefit theft victims to test the site and assess the clarity of the instructions provided.
KPIX has been reporting on the alarming spike in EDD fraud cases in the Bay Area and across California since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those instances have involved unemployment benefits on Bank of America debit cards that have been fraudulently requested or hacked.
Given the significant increase of workers eligible for unemployment insurance benefits during the pandemic, the Department of Labor statement noted that state systems have been under attack by organized criminal groups and others who are utilizing information stolen in past data breaches of other systems to collect benefits fraudulently across multiple states. State workforce agencies are facing unprecedented demand for unemployment benefits while trying to investigate and curb cases of criminal fraud.
“We understand that victims of unemployment insurance fraud are scared, confused and deeply frustrated,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Suzi LeVine in the release. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to working with state workforce agencies and our federal and state partners across government to ensure these victims have access to the resources they need along with help to clearly guide them through this difficult situation and show them how to report fraud.”
Many fraud victims are unaware that thieves have filed claims or collected benefits in their names illegally, with some only learning they were victimized after receiving unexpected mail such as a payment, or a state-issued 1099-G tax form with errors or for benefits they didn’t get.
Victims need to report their case to state workforce departments to initiate an investigation and reach a resolution. The new website features a government-verified directory with each state’s direct contact method for reporting this type of unemployment fraud.