Since March of 2020, New York State has reported experiencing a significant increase in fraudulent unemployment benefit claims submitted on behalf of individuals. According to the New York State Department of Labor, as of Feb. 2, 2021 there have been over 425,000 fraudulent claims statewide. This includes multiple false claims filed in the names of Syracuse University employees. Fraudulent claims are being investigated by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.
If you have been contacted by Human Resources or New York State informing you that someone has filed a fraudulent unemployment claim on your behalf, consider taking the following steps to protect your credit.
Consider these steps
- Report the fraudulent claim to the New York State Department of Labor and consider completing the Unemployment Insurance Fraud form.
- Follow Advice from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
On the FTC’s website, you can report fraud and/or identity theft, get free credit reports, and find resources and other tips on recovering from identity theft. There is a page written specifically for those affected by unemployment fraud, which provides the following advice:
- Report the Fraud: In addition to reporting to the New York State Department of Labor, the FTC also suggests that you report the fraud to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by completing an NCDF Complaint Form online, or by calling 866.720.5721.
- Protect Your Credit: The FTC advises you to consider freezing your credit, which protects you against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. To set a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three credit bureaus.
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- If you decide not to place a credit freeze, the FTC advises placing a fraud alert on your credit reports, which will require a business to verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name. To place a fraud alert, you contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must then tell the other two.
- Monitor Your Credit: You should carefully review your credit reports. It is good practice for any individual to review their credit reports annually. You can get free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
- Report Identity Theft: If there is evidence of additional fraud beyond the fraudulent unemployment claims, particularly when reviewing your credit reports, the FTC advises that you report identity theft on the FTC’s Identity Theft website.
- Monitor Other Accounts: The FTC advises you to monitor your other financial accounts, including bank statements, other financial account statements, utility bills, credit card statements, medical bills, and medical insurance statements.
- Filing Tax Returns: You should be aware that you may receive an IRS Form 1099-G from New York State as a result of the fraudulent unemployment claim. The FTC recommends reviewing IRS guidance on how to file tax returns if this happens.
- Contact Identity Theft Resource Center for additional assistance. Identity Theft Resource Center is a free, non-profit organization that assists individuals who are victims of identity theft. In addition to the advice already provided by the FTC, the Identity Theft Resource Center may recommend that you:
- Monitor Social Security Statements to ensure there is no fraud (note: this will require the creation of an account using personal information)
- Place passwords on bank accounts
- Contact the IRS to file taxes with a PIN rather than a social security number
- Additional Federal Agency Guidance from IRS and Department of Justice
- Review IRS News Release on identity theft involving unemployment benefits
- Review the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Consumer Protection Guide and the Issuance of Erroneous Forms 1099-G due to Fraudulent Unemployment Insurance Claims [PDF] issued by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force.
- Consider Other Action Items
- Consider submitting a fraud report to local law enforcement and/or to the FBI
- Consider purchasing a policy through a private company to monitor identity theft