How to be Aware of Unemployment Scams

What are Unemployment Scams?

The frequency of unemployment scams has significantly increased in the United States over the course of the pandemic. Unemployment scams refer to fraudulent unemployment benefit claims that are filed by criminal organizations. 

To apply for unemployment benefits, personally identifiable information – including Social Security numbers – is required. Scammers obtain this information through cyberattacks and phishing scams. 

Once a false claim is processed and accepted, the funds are either deposited into a bank account set up by the scammer or into the bank account of the person whose identity has been stolen. In the case of the latter, the scammer will reach out to the victim by impersonating a government official and asking them to return an overpayment made in error. 

How Unemployment Scammers Find Victims

No matter how savvy you are when it comes to scams, anyone can be a victim of an unemployment scam. Even the most privacy-conscious individuals cannot avoid sharing personal information with some companies and organizations. 

The pandemic saw the biggest increase in cyber attacks in history, with massive companies like Colonial Pipeline becoming targets. When a company experiences a data breach, the personal information of its customers and employees is leaked and sold to criminal organizations to be used for nefarious purposes. 

Whether you’re employed or not, your personal information could be in the hands of an unemployment scammer. A claim may be filed without your knowledge, or an employer may approach you with questions in the event they are notified you have made a claim. 

Protecting Your Employees from Unemployment Scams

While unemployment scams are a serious cause for concern, there are steps that you can take to protect you, your employees, your clients, and the reputation of your business. 

1 – Educate Employees

Sometimes all it takes for a cyber attack to occur is one mistake made by a single employee. Whether it’s a password that was accidentally given away, a link clicked on a suspicious email, or a public computer that was not logged out of, data breaches can occur through a moment of carelessness. 

Ensure that your employees are on guard and know what to look for to help prevent a cyber attack from occurring. 

2 – Report Fraud and Identity Theft

If you suspect an employee has become a victim of unemployment fraud, report it to the state unemployment benefits agency immediately. The affected employee should also be made aware that they should report their identity as stolen to the Federal Trade Commission. 

Once they’ve reported this, they will be provided with a recovery plan to prevent them from coming to further harm. 

3 – Improve Your Company’s Cybersecurity

With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated with each passing year, it is vital that you work with an IT company to identify holes in your company’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Because technology is constantly changing and your IT infrastructure is continuously being added to, a point of weakness in your system may go unnoticed. Take the time to develop a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) to prepare for this worst-case scenario. 

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