Unemployment compensation fraud continues to rise in Midstate

Local

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Local police departments are being inundated with reports of unemployment compensation fraud. In many cases, it means people’s identities have been stolen.

There are a few steps you should take if you think you’re a victim.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry replaced its old unemployment compensation system in June and since then, reports of fraud have skyrocketed.

In Lancaster County, Ephrata police have received 45 reports of UC fraud since July 1.

Nearby, Lititz police have taken about 20 reports in the last month.

“The number and the frequency of the reports has been escalating so almost daily there are reports,” Lititz Borough Police Sgt. Jared Hahn said.

Hahn says it’s important not to give away personal information if you receive an unsolicited call or message.

“In many instances, it’s actually employers who are discovering the fraudulent enrollments on behalf of their employees,” Hahn said.

That’s the case with two of John Sancenito’s employees at INA, a Harrisburg-based security consulting firm.

“My HR person realized that fraudulent claims had been made by them, even though the people had been working full-time,” Sancenito said. “So we made an inquiry with them. They said they didn’t file the claims.”

The next step for them is filing a police report in the municipality where they live, which is needed to file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industry.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of individuals are committing identity theft, stealing people’s identity in order to apply for unemployment compensation benefits in their name,” Sancenito said.

Sancenito says it’s important to pay attention to notifications of bank or address changes.

“Oftentimes when there’s a change, consumers will get a notification by Labor and Industry to say that an address request to change has been made. Can you please verify whether or not this is true?” Sancenito said.

Even if you’re legitimately applying for UC, be vigilant.

“Verifying you’re doing it through their official website or through verified phone numbers that are associated with unemployment compensation to make sure that you’re not inadvertently giving your information to a scammer, Hahn said.

If you believe you’re a victim of UC fraud, you can report it online by clicking here or call the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469.

You can start a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.

To learn more about UC fraud click here.

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