Feds Launch Website to Help Report Unemployment Fraud

The U.S. Department of Labor launched a new website to assist the victims of unemployment fraud in filing reports. Despite providing helpful resources, the site also comes with some limitations.

a torn $100 bill reveling the word "fraud"
Shutterstock/Cinemato
(TNS) — The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website to help victims of unemployment fraud report that they’ve being targeted.

But rather than creating any new way for people to report being victimized, the website simply refers Ohioans to the state’s website for reporting unemployment fraud – which for months has been overwhelmed with reports, creating often-lengthy delays.
 
The new federal site acknowledges these limitations. “You may not receive an immediate confirmation from the state when you submit a report,” it states. “Time estimates for how long this process takes vary by state.”
 
The webpage does include a helpful list of some of the ways to tell that people have become the victim of unemployment fraud, including being mailed a company, government, or tax form for benefits they never sought or received.
 
It also urges Americans who find their stolen personal information was used to dishonestly apply for benefits in their name to file a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud. That agency will also notify the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating unemployment fraud (and the agency the state of Ohio sends all of its unemployment fraud cases to for investigation).
 
The website also advises that people who have been targeted should file their taxes without reporting any benefits obtained by fraudsters. And it notes that people who want to see whether they’ve been victimized can receive a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus via annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1- 877-322-8228. The Labor Department has a version of the website in Spanish.
 
Tom Betti, a spokesman with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which runs Ohio’s unemployment benefits system, recommended that Ohioans victimized by unemployment fraud go to the state’s website first to report the fraud. But he said his department welcomes the new federal website.
 
“It’s good to have it all in one spot — anything that makes it easier for victims of identity theft,” Betti said. For the past year, every state’s unemployment benefits system has been beset by scammers – usually from countries such as Nigeria, China, and Russia – who have taken advantage of the federal government’s decision early on in the coronavirus crisis to prioritize distributing pandemic unemployment payments as quickly as possible over catching scammers.
 
Last year, Ohio paid out more than $330 million in fraudulent PUA claims, according to ODJFS. Bogus claims for traditional unemployment benefits have also surged in Ohio – especially since late January.
 
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