Attorney General Letitia James today warned people about new, recently reported scams using New Yorkers’ personal information to file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.
“We must remain vigilant about potential scams and ensure residents remain alert,” Attorney General James said. “During these uncertain times, unemployment benefits are a safety net for many individuals and families who have lost their jobs. To exploit the use of these funds and overload a system that is already processing unprecedented numbers of claims per day is as shameful as it is illegal. My office remains committed to holding accountable anyone who violates the law, and I continue to encourage the public to report suspected scams to my office.”
There have been recent reports of scammers having access to detailed databases with Personally Identifiable Information (P.I.I.). Armed with P.I.I., scammers have sought out cooperation from “mules” who are used as intermediaries for filing claims online seeking benefits, exploiting the avalanche of legitimate claims that have hit the New York State Department of Labor due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Individuals who have been contacted by the NYS Department of Labor about unemployment benefits they did not apply for must be aware of the possibility of identity theft. For more specific information about how to protect your identity, visit the Attorney General’s website at ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/identity-theft.
Attorney General James highlights the following tips for New Yorkers to protect themselves from these scams:
Be suspicious of anyone who calls you over the phone seeking money or personal information. If you owe money, you will receive a legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason you owe money.
Do not give out personal and sensitive information, including your Social Security number and bank account information, to individuals over the phone. In addition, ensure to independently verify the authenticity of the caller.
Victims of unemployment benefits fraud should report any incidents to their employer and to the NYS Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Program. Victims can also file a complaint online with the Office of the Attorney General or call 1-800-771-7755.