Unemployment Fraud man in suit with shield icon

Scams Related COVID-19

What is Unemployment Fraud?

Unemployment fraud involves using stolen identities to file fraudulent unemployment claims. The stolen identities are obtained through different sources such as data breaches, email phishing schemes, and public social media accounts.

Why Is Unemployment Fraud Prevalent?

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in large numbers of unemployment filings. While roughly 44 million vulnerable Americans are submitting personal financial information, hackers and scammers are working harder than ever.  

How Do You Know if You've Been a Victim of Unemployment Fraud?

Many victims of identity theft related to unemployment insurance claims do not know they have been targeted, and may only learn about their compromised identity after:

  • They try to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits
  • They receive a notification from the state unemployment agency
  • They receive an IRS Form 1099-G showing benefits collected from unemployment insurance
  • They are notified by their employer that a claim has been filed while still employed. 

According to the FBI National Press Office Release (July 6, 2020), the five suspicious activities to recognize include:  

  • Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits
  • Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
  • Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment benefits
  • Unsolicited inquiries related to unemployment benefits
  • Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those government agencies

How to Help Avoid Fraud

  • Keep a close eye on your personal accounts and financial information
  • Do not share social media accounts or passwords, and use a variety of login credentials 
  • If you do need to file for unemployment, do so on a secure device and WiFi, and keep financial paperwork private
  • If you suspect you have been the victim of fraud, our Identity Theft Resource Center can help

For more information from the FBI regarding Unemployment Fraud and Identity Theft, visit the FBI Website