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How to avoid the latest COVID-related scam: fraudulent unemployment insurance claims

Dec. 29, 2021, 10:44 AM

The federal government has seen a spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims complaints related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Consistent with this activity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees have been periodically targeted with false unemployment claims filed in their name.

How will I know if I’ve been the victim of unemployment insurance fraud?

  • Most often, your employer will become aware of fraudulent unemployment claims by receiving a claim notice from your state unemployment agency for you even though you are employed.
  • Other times, victims of unemployment insurance fraud discover they’ve been targeted when they try to file a legitimate claim for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • You should also be concerned if you have received a notification from the state unemployment insurance agency, an IRS Form 1099-G showing the benefits collected from unemployment insurance, or notification from your employer that a claim has been filed even though you are employee.

What can I do to prevent unemployment insurance fraud?

  • Look out for suspicious activity, such as: Receiving communications regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for unemployment benefits. 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.
  • Be wary of telephone calls and text messages, letters, websites, or emails that require providing personal information or other sensitive information, especially birth dates and Social Security numbers.
  • Be cautious with attachments and embedded links within email, especially from an unknown email sender.
  • Immediately report unauthorized transactions to financial institutions or credit card providers.

Below are important steps you can take if you suspect a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed in your name.

  • Inform your state Unemployment Office. In Tennessee, visit https://www.tn.gov/workforce/unemployment/ unemployment-records-redirect/report-ui-fraud.html.
  • Notify your banks, credit unions, or any financial institutions of the compromise of your personal information.
  • Contact the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Tranunion and Experian, and put a fraud alert on your account.
  • Notify the Internal Revenue Service by filing an Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) through irs.gov or identitytheft.gov.
  • Change any online passwords containing personal information, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

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