HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Department of Labor & Industry is reminding Pennsylvanians of the warning signs associated with the widespread identity theft fraud ring targeting COVID-19 unemployment compensation benefits programs across the nation.
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is the primary target of this sophisticated scam and victims are urged to report instances of fraud to L&I and local police.
“Pennsylvania takes unemployment benefits fraud very seriously and first warned the public about this national scam in May,” said Secretary Oleksiak. “These fraudsters are using personal information previously stolen from sources outside of commonwealth agencies to file for PUA benefits. Many Pennsylvanians are not even aware their identities were stolen in the past until they receive correspondence or a debit card from our UC office. I urge everyone to remain vigilant, recognize the scam warning signs, and know what to do if you become a victim.”
L&I continues to work closely with many state and federal partners, including banking and law enforcement officials. That collaboration identified more than 4,00 fraudulent claims.
“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds are intended to help Pennsylvanians who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus,” said U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain. “Thieves who attempt to take these funds are taking advantage of others’ misfortune – ripping them off while also ripping off all taxpayers who fund the program. I want to commend the outstanding cooperation and coordination among federal and state agencies, and private banking institutions, that together achieved this remarkable success. The U.S. Attorney’s Office Coronavirus Working Group enables us to combine the tremendous resources and skill of federal and state law enforcement to do what it takes to bring these criminals to justice.”
Scam Warning Signs
Pennsylvanians should be aware of the following potentially fraudulent activities related to unemployment compensation benefits:
- You have not applied for unemployment benefits but receive a check or direct deposit from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department (Treasury) or a ReliaCard debit card issued by US Bank.
- You receive correspondence from L&I or Treasury about receiving unemployment assistance for which you did not apply.
- Someone comes to your home that you do not know and tells you that their unemployment assistance check or debit card was mailed to you by mistake.
- Someone asks you to use your bank account to deposit their unemployment assistance.
- Someone, in person or electronically, tells you that you are entitled to unemployment assistance and requests your personal identifying information.
- Someone offers to help you file for unemployment benefits for a fee.
- Someone claims to be from L&I or another government agency or office and asks for a fee or personal information to complete your application for PUA or other benefits.
- Any employer that receives notice that a claim has been filed for one or more of your employees who continued working and were not laid off or otherwise unemployed.
If any of these suspicious activities happen to you, do not assist or confront the fraudster.
Additional information is available on L&I’s website.
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