The recent increase in unemployment claims caused by the COVID-19 crisis has given criminals a new opportunity to strike. State and federal officials have received multiple reports of fraudsters using sensitive personal information obtained from previous data breaches to file for unemployment benefits on behalf of Maine residents.
They then impersonate an individual who has not been laid off to file false claims on their behalf. In some cases, the fraudster will direct the funds to go to an online bank, a bank account that they designate, or the persons actual bank. In cases where it goes to a person’s actual bank account, the fraudster will then call the person to try to deceive them in transferring the money to them.
If you believe that someone has used your identity to file a fraudulent unemployment claim, please notify us immediately so we can put a note on your account. You should also notify the Maine Department of Labor as soon as possible: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/
There are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from scams:
- Limit the amount of personal information you provide, such as your Social Security Number, bank account number, or debit/credit card number, via email or over the phone
- Monitor your bank accounts regularly for suspicious activity. If you receive unemployment funds that you did not apply for, call us immediately
- Consider placing a freeze on your credit by visiting each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to prevent unauthorized access to your credit report. You can also request to be notified any time someone attempts to establish new credit in your name. For more information, you may visit the Maine Credit Freeze Fact Sheet.
- Do not respond to phone calls or text messages from unknown or suspicious numbers
- Be cautious when clicking on links or attachments in emails. If you were not expecting the email, do not open any link or attachment
For more information on reporting identity theft and developing a recovery plan, please visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/.