PENNSYLVANIA, (WHTM) — Local, state, and federal agencies are looking into a spike of fraudulent unemployment claims ever since Pennsylvania launched its new system last month. Some claims are leaving people with huge headaches.
Officials say there is not a security breach of the new unemployment compensation system. Instead, fraudsters are stealing people’s personal information and then applying for benefits in their name, often leaving the victims frustrated, and with a lot of work to do.
Identity theft is on the rise after the Department of Labor and Industry launched its new unemployment compensation website on June 8. John Donley is one of the victims.
“I had to put everything on a freeze. It really is, it’s an inconvenience,” Donley said.
The FBI, state police, local law enforcement, the state treasurer, and the state attorney general’s office are all investigating. They couldn’t say how many cases of fraud they’re investigating but Donley believes it has to be a lot.
“I started talking to other employers including my neighbor who works in human resources for another large family services company which has a lot of employees, and they were seeing the same thing. All of a sudden once the new system went live, they were getting these fraudulent claims coming through for active employees,” Donley said.
State officials say the increase in fraud is likely a result of the increased attention that the new system received before it went live.
“Pennsylvania reached a huge milestone by implementing its modernized UC system. This is something we’re the second large state to do this, so this gained national attention and unfortunately, fraudsters were watching,” Jennifer Berrier, Pennsylvania Labor, and Industry Acting Secretary said.
If you think you’re a victim, file a police report and file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industry, notify your employer, and check your credit report.
Meanwhile, the state says the current backlog of unemployment claims is under 300,000 and that the new system is helping them get through claims faster, but not fast enough for the dozens of people who’ve reached out to us with their own frustrations.