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FBI reports surge in unemployment insurance scams in El Paso, what you need to know

New IdentityTheft Scam

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The FBI is warning the Borderland to beware of bogus unemployment insurance claims being filed using stolen identities and is seeing a surge in cases. 

Locally, the FBI El Paso Division is reporting more than 200 cases spanning three entities within the last few months using stolen personally identifiable information.

The FBI says scammers obtain a stolen identity by accessing previous data breach information, cold-calling scam targets, or by purchasing stolen personal information.

Many victims are unaware they’re the victim of identity theft related to unemployment insurance claims until they receive documentation that they must pay taxes on income they did not receive. 

The FBI recommends the public lookout for suspicious activities:

  • Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms or payments when you have not applied for unemployment benefits
  • Receiving a state taxable income form 1099-G reflecting unemployment benefits you have not applied for
  • Receiving a notice that your claim was rejected because there is a claim already in your name. ▪ Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
  • Any fees involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance
  • Unsolicited inquiries related to unemployment benefits
  • Fictitious websites and social media pages mimicking those of government agencies

“Just remember, unemployment insurance benefits are a taxable income, that’s why you’re receiving an IRS form,” says Jeanette Harper, Special Agent at the FBI El Paso Division. “So if you have those, you want to immediately contact the Texas Workforce Commission because you don’t want to be held liable for income that you have not received.”

If you’re the victim of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims, the FBI encourages the following actions:

  •  Immediately contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records
  • Notify the Internal Revenue Service by filing an Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) through irs.gov or identitytheft.gov  
  • Immediately call the Texas Workforce Commission at 1-800-252-3642 and request a corrected Form 1099-G
  •  Notify your employer of the fraudulent claim as they will also need to file documentation

The FBI compiled a list of tips to protect yourself:

  • Be wary of telephone calls and text messages, letters, websites, or emails that require you to provide your personal information or other sensitive information, especially birth dates and Social Security numbers. Be cautious with attachments and embedded links within emails and texts, especially from an unknown sender.
  • Monitor your bank accounts on a regular basis and request your credit report (annualcreditreport.com) at least once a year to look for any fraudulent activity. If you believe you are a victim, review your credit report more frequently
  • Immediately report unauthorized transactions to your financial institution or credit card provider
  • Follow good computer hygiene and cybersecurity practices
  • Research unemployment benefit websites, including state unemployment insurance agencies, before providing your PII. There are many fake websites mimicking legitimate websites https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-warns-about-fake-unemployment-benefit-websites 

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Source: on 2021-04-07 14:45:00

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