The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and file for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Massachusetts, along with numerous other states, has been hit hard with fraudulent unemployment claims. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has reported that over 58,000 fraudulent unemployment claims have been detected throughout the state, preventing the loss of over $158 million.
“It’s frustrating to hear that there are fraudulent unemployment claims happening in our state and our community,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “The people who are genuinely filing a claim because they lost their job should not have to face another hurdle to try to collect unemployment funds. These are uncertain times and it is my hope that the resources provided by the DUA can help rectify this situation.”
The DUA has verification steps in place to help validate your identity when filing for a claim. They have stated that there is no evidence of a state data breach and is working diligently with claimants to ensure their protection.
If you feel that your identity has been stolen, the DUA has provided steps you can take to protect yourself:
• File a police report with your local police department. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report so you will be able to provide it to creditors and credit agencies.
• Change your passwords on your email, banking, and all other personal accounts.
• Reach out to your credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions where you do business. Explain to them that you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft and request that they put a “fraud alert” on your account.
• Run a credit report and dispute any charges that appear fraudulent. You may request credit reports online from the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion or by calling the Federal Trade Commission, 1-877-322-8228.
• Place a credit freeze with each of the major credit reporting agencies. Additionally, place a “fraud alert” on your credit file by contacting just one of the credit agencies and this will add an alert to the others.
o Equifax: 1-800-349-9960 or https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
o Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
o TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872 or https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
• Take notes of all conversations and keep copies of all documents.
The DUA wants to assure the residents of Massachusetts that protecting claimants’ information is their top priority. If you feel that someone is using your identity to falsely claim unemployment benefits, there are signs to recognize this activity:
• Asking you to pay a fee
o The DUA will never ask you to pay a fee for assistance with your claim.
• Be aware of false websites
o The official state website is Mass.gov
o The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) website is https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/_/
o The claimant login website is https://uionline.detma.org/Claimant/Core/Login.ASP
• Email and Text Messages
o The DUA will never ask for your private personal information (Social Security Number, Bank Account, Credit Card, etc.) by email or text message.
o The DUA may send information by email or text message, but this information will always direct you to Mass.gov resources.
If you suspect that you may be a victim of unemployment benefits fraud, you can complete a form to report it to the DUA that can be found at https://www.mass.gov/forms/unemployment-fraud-reporting-form or reach the DUA customer service department at 1-877-626-6800. Additionally, if you are an employer and you wish to report fraud, you can email your complaint to [email protected]