The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed many aspects of our lifestyles this year. The uniqueness of the pandemic has also created new avenues for scammers to launch sophisticated attacks against our personal information. One of the most common scams that has been borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic is theft of an individual’s unemployment benefits. These falsified claims may present themselves in different ways. If you are self-employed or retired, you may receive a letter in the mail from your local Unemployment Agency outlining your unemployment benefits claim. If you are employed, your HR department will contact you if a claim is filed with them on your behalf.
To file an unemployment claim in your name, a scammer must have access to personal information, like your social security number and date of birth. Below, we have outlined steps that can be taken should you receive a notice of a fraudulent unemployment claim, proactive measures to better protect your identity against attempted fraud and actions that Crestwood takes to keep your data safe.
What to Do If a Fraudulent Unemployment Claim Has Been Filed on Your Behalf
- Utilize the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/report-unemployment-benefits-fraud or call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800.
- If you are not a MA resident, contact your state unemployment agency either by phone or an online platform.
- Alert your employer, your accountant, and your financial advisor, if applicable.
- Each entity will take precautionary measures to safeguard your identity and your assets further.
- Make a list of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business. Notify them that you are a potential victim of identity theft and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account.
- Get a copy of your credit report by contacting the Federal Trade Commission either at https://identitytheft.gov/ or 877-ID-THEFT.
- File a complaint with the FTC to ensure that any fraudulent transactions are disputed, fraudulent accounts in your name are closed, and to place an alert on your account.
- Contact the 3 major credit bureaus and request a credit freeze.
- Equifax: 800-349-9960 or online
- Experian: 888 397 3742 or online
- TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or online
- File a police report with your local police department. Get a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
- Update passwords to all entities that house potentially sensitive data.
Proactive Measures to Protect Your Identity Further
- Change passwords on your email, banking, and other personal accounts more than once a year.
- Use dual authentication, where available, and a password management tool to create and house strong, unique passwords.
- Set up your My Social Security account.
- Visit https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.action to set up your account and prevent someone else from potentially doing so in your name.
- Review your credit card, bank and investment statements in detail on a regular basis.
What Crestwood Advisors is Doing to Keep Your Data Safe
- We employ dual authentication on our systems and with our custodians
- We are committed to utilizing added layers of authentication such as verbal authorization prior to any 3rd party money movement.
- We work diligently to protect your personal information through employee training and email encryption.
- Should you fall victim to any instance of fraud, we will work with our custodians to freeze your account(s) to protect the assets.
If you have questions about fraudulent unemployment claims or believe you are a victim of identity theft, please do not hesitate to contact your team at Crestwood Advisors.