Nevada’s COVID-19 Task Force, formed by Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich, has recently received reports suggesting that personal identifying information of some present and past Nevada residents is being used to file fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits.
Potential victims typically learn of these suspected unlawful activities when either they receive a letter from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) relating to an application for benefits they never sought, and/or their employer receives a similar notification from DETR.
“This Task Force was formed to fight fraud and prosecute those using COVID-19 for their own financial gain,” said Attorney General Aaron D. Ford. “Thousands of Nevadans have lost their jobs and are facing extreme financial hardship. I urge Nevadans affected by or with information about fraudulent unemployment applications to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and DETR.”
“The COVID-19 Fraud Task Force is committed to protecting the integrity of the unemployment benefits program,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich. “We will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners and colleagues on the Task Force to safeguard the program for Nevadans facing difficult situations who need our help.”
Individuals who believe that someone is fraudulently using their identity to apply for unemployment benefits should file a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), at www.ic3.gov and to DETR’s Fraud Report. Nevada’s COVID-19 Fraud Task Force is working with DETR to assess the problem. Due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing, no further information about the details of the investigation will be provided at this time.
In April 2020, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich announced the formation of Nevada’s COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of local, state and federal investigators and prosecutors with significant experience in handling complaints and cases related to general fraud, heath care fraud, Medicaid fraud, insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud and cybercrime, among others. Together, they have been sharing information and resources to protect Nevadans from those using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of consumers.
The following are some tips to protect yourself against unemployment scams and identity theft:
• Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.
• Thoroughly review all financial statements for any unusual activity. Immediately contact the company if an item looks suspicious.
• Shred or destroy credit card statements, bills, insurance papers or bank statements before throwing them out.
• Do not carry your Social Security Card in your wallet.
• Be wary of anyone calling to “confirm” personal or financial information. Often, these are criminals trying to obtain those facts under the guise of “confirmation”.
• Release your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary or when required by law.
• Ask how you can remove unnecessary information or information that is not required for the service you are receiving.
• Check credit reports, banking information, medical information that may have details that need to be removed or secured.
• Do not provide or validate your personal information from contacts not initiated by you.
• Protect and update passwords to your online accounts regularly.
• When creating passwords and PINS, do not use anything that could be discovered easily by thieves.
• Memorize all your passwords and PINS.
• Remove old accounts and passwords that are no longer in use.
• Use additional security measures provided for your accounts wherever available.
• Contact your local police department if you think your identity has been stolen.
• If you think an identity thief is using your Social Security number, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271.