Identity theft for unemployment benefits rampant
Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports from persons who claimed their identity was stolen and used by another to file a false unemployment claim in their name using their Social Security number and other personal information.
In most cases, the victims received letters in the mail from the Office of Unemployment Insurance displaying the last four digits of their Social Security number telling them their salary, the total benefits they qualify for and the amount they will receive each week, and noting that they will receive a 1099-G statement at the end of next January reporting the benefits paid to them.
Some of those who have filed reports with the sheriff’s office in the past few days are:
– Virgil S. Ferguson, 5190 Van Meter Road, reported that he received a call from his employer asking if he had filed an unemployment claim on March 21.
– Amy C. Schwab, 19 Fontaine Boulevard, reported that someone filed a claim using her information.
– Stephen K. Huff, 163 Center Drive, reported April 5 that someone used his information to file a claim and that he doesn’t know who would have.
– Hollie R. Green, 204 Moss Court, reported April 5 that someone filed a claim using her information, and she doesn’t know who did.
– Lellie Rice, 16 Fontaine Blvd., reported April 2 that on March 21, someone filed a claim in her name and that she had not filed for unemployment.
– Randall Patrick, 5790 Colby Road, reported April 6 that he received a letter April 6 from the state unemployment office on April 2 advising that he was approved for unemployment benefits and that personal information such as his Social Security number, birth date and address was used. He said he was working and hadn’t filed a claim.
“I’d say that in the last two or three weeks … we’ve had quite a few,” Deputy Noel Johnson said.
Detective Steve Charles of the Winchester Police Department said his agency, too, had received numerous reports.
The problem is rampant has been rampant throughout the state. Half or more of the state’s unemployment benefits claims could be fraudulent.
And on Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order establishing a Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Fraud Detection and Prevention Task Force that will consist of state and federal agencies who will “investigate, prosecute and prevent unemployment insurance fraud,” the Governor’s Office said in a press release.
“Like many other states across the country, Kentucky has seen a surge in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims,” Beshear said in a statement. “This task force will bring together the needed resources to combat this scourge.”
According to the Governor’s Office, more than $63 billion in fraudulent claims have been paid nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic that put millions of people out of work.
Measures taken by the Office of Unemployment Insurance to prevent fraud include adding a new welcome screen to the claimant website with a more secure login, updating the fraud form on the site to report identity theft on the site, entering into a new partnership with ID.me, implementing reCaptcha and adopted new measures for out-of-state Pandemic Unemployment
Assistance and putting a hold on those claims until identification can be verified.
The office also announced Friday that it was stopping all claimants from making changes to the bank account information on file with the agency. The move comes after OUI was made aware of claimants reporting unauthorized changes to their bank accounts in recent days. In this newest form, the fraudulent activity occurs when criminals exploit unsophisticated PIN numbers created by claimants, used in conjunction with publicly available information obtained from other sources on the Internet.
The agency will soon require new and existing claimants to create more complex PIN numbers. In addition, all new UI claimants will only be paid by paper check effective immediately, the Governor’s Office reported.
The Kentucky Career Center’s website has a link to a report unemployment benefits fraud is https://kcc.ky.gov/career/Pages/UI%20Fraud.aspx