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Over the first dozen days of June the Saugus Police Department fielded 15 reports of personal information being used to file fraudulent unemployment claims – a statewide trend that has captured the attention of law enforcement.
The Saugus police log is filled with calls for assistance in May and June from residents whose social security numbers were illegally used to collect or file for unemployment benefits.
Attorney General Maura Healey advised residents to be aware that criminals are stealing personal data to file fraudulent unemployment claims through unemployment agencies across the country.
As of last week, Healey announced that the Attorney General’s Office had fielded about 300 calls from individuals claiming to have been targeted by unemployment fraud scams since the start of the pandemic.
The Attorney General’s Office and Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance are working with law enforcement to investigate the rash of fraudulent unemployment claims.
“We are working with our state and federal partners to determine the sources of these fraudulent claims and take appropriate action,” Healey said. “In the meantime, if you encounter one of these scams, stay alert, stay calm, and report this fraud.”
Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta pointed to ensuring the integrity of the unemployment system and making sure benefits are being distributed to the proper claimants as the top priorities for the Department of Unemployment Assistance.
“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,” Acosta said.
Healey recommended any victims of unemployment fraud scams to take the following action:
• Report the fraud: Make a list of credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions where you do business. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. Consider filing a police report with your local police department and get a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
• Secure your accounts: Change passwords on your email, banking and other personal accounts.
• Check your credit report: Get a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions. You can request credit reports online from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or by calling (877) 322-8228.
• Freeze your credit: Place a credit freeze with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. A freeze prevents identity thieves from opening new lines of credit in your name. Call each of the credit reporting agencies at these phone numbers or visit their websites to freeze your credit. Equifax: 800-349-9960 or freeze your credit online; Experian: 888‑397‑3742 or freeze your credit online; TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or freeze your credit online.
• Add a fraud alert: Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You can do this by contacting just one of the credit agencies to add an alert with all three agencies.
• Keep records: Take notes about all conversations and keep copies of all records.
Reported unemployment fraud cases soar locally
Here is a rundown of calls the Saugus Police Department received in recent weeks for alleged unemployment fraud:
May 24: A Hampton Street caller reported someone used her social security number to file for unemployment.
May 28: A Hobson Street resident reported she received an unemployment packet and she didn’t file for unemployment. She was concerned about identity theft. Police advised her to contact Internal Revenue Services
May 29: A Grandview Avenue caller reported her social security number was used to file for unemployment
June 1: A Marshall Avenue caller reported he was the victim of identity fraud on May 21. He stated he received a letter in the mail that indicated a claim was opened in his name due to the pandemic unemployment.
June 2: An Appleton Street resident reported his identity is being used fraudulently.
June 3: A Walnut Street resident reported his social security number was being used fraudulently.
June 4: A Prospect Street resident reported receiving a notice of monetary determination regarding an unemployment claim that he didn’t make.
June 5: A Brookfield Lane resident reported her social security number was used fraudulently to file for unemployment.
June 5: A Third Street resident reported his social security number was used to open a bank account to file for unemployment.
June 6: An Oakcrest Street resident reported her personal information was used to collect unemployment benefits without her knowledge.
June 8: A Stone Street caller reported receiving a letter in the mail that indicated his social security number was used to file for unemployment.
June 8: A Reynolds Drive caller reported a fraudulent letter for unemployment in her name.
June 8: A Pine Street resident reported someone used his name fraudulently to file for unemployment.
June 9: A Morton Avenue caller reported receiving a fraudulent letter for pandemic unemployment in her name.
June 9: A Virginia Terrace resident reported receiving a notice in the mail that her social security number was used to file for unemployment.
June 10: A Hammersmith Drive resident reported her social security number was used to file for unemployment.
June 11: A Central Place resident reported she was the victim of identity fraud. She reported her social security number was used to file for unemployment.
June 12: A Hilltop Avenue resident reported someone filed for unemployment using his information.
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