Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of Americans are out of work. Unemployment is at the highest point it has been in years. Things are bad out there for a lot of people.
As per usual, when people are at a low point, someone, somewhere, rises to the occasion and does their best to take advantage of the situation. There's a new scam currently underway in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that you should be aware of:
BOSTON — Criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file large amounts of illegitimate unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has begun implementing additional identity verification measures that will temporarily delay the payment timeframe for many unemployment claims in Massachusetts. As a result of these measures, certain unemployment claimants may be asked to provide additional identity information in order to verify the validity of their claim.
“Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are going only to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “While the program integrity measures we are taking will, unfortunately, mean that some claimants will experience temporary delays in payment, we believe these steps are necessary to respond to this unemployment scam. We are working rapidly to respond to this scheme and urge individuals who may have had a false unemployment claim filed in their name to contact the Department.”
Individuals who believe they may have had a false unemployment claim filed using their identity are urged to utilize the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form at mass.gov/unemployment-fraud or to call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800.
Additional updates related to this criminal activity will be posted at mass.gov/unemployment as soon as they are available.
The Commonwealth has also posted a list of things you can do on their website (see here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/report-unemployment-benefits-fraud). I've copied those steps below as well for convenience:
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) takes fraudulent claims seriously and we are working closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies. We want to assure you that there is no evidence of a state data breach. Protecting claimants' information is our top priority.
You may receive communications about a fraudulent claim from DUA by text message, email, or letter.
Here are some common unemployment scam techniques to watch out for:
Asking you to pay a fee
- DUA will never ask you to pay a fee for assistance with your claim
Be aware of false websites
Check the web address of sites you are on. Some try to mimic official Massachusetts sites with similar names.
- Mass.gov is the official state website
- The website for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/_/
- The claimant login website is https://uionline.detma.org/Claimant/Core/Login.ASP
Emails and text messages
- DUA may share information by email and text message but these will always point you to Mass.gov resources
- DUA will never ask you for private personal information such as Social Security numbers, or bank account or credit card information by email or text message
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