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Department of Labor & Industry warns of new unemployment benefits scam

Multiple states, including Pennsylvania, have been inundated with fraudulent unemployment claims, primarily through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Secretary Jerry Oleksiak of the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) announced today the emergence of nationwide scams involving fraudsters offering cash rewards to access state unemployment benefits and reminds people to be vigilant.

“As we continue to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to prevent frauds and scams, please note the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will never contact you and ask for your personal, private information,” said Secretary Oleksiak. “If you receive a call, email, text, social media message, or other communication seeking information such as your username, password, or full Social Security number, do not provide it. We will never ask you for this information."

The latest scam involves scammers engaging in social engineering to commit identity theft by circulating emails and Facebook posts informing recipients they won a prize. When the victim clicks on the link, the fraudster has them take steps to tie their identity to the fraudster’s login.

L&I does not offer assistance to claimants over social media messaging due to the inability to guarantee security and confidentiality, and messages received by “L&I” over social media are most likely fraudulent and should be ignored.

Multiple states, including Pennsylvania, have been inundated with fraudulent unemployment claims, primarily through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which assists out-of-work individuals who are typically ineligible for traditional unemployment compensation. 

Due to this issue, there have been questions about the authenticity of a legitimate email distributed by L&I to PUA claimants between 5:00 and 6:00 PM Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, from the email sender “LI, oucbp-fedp-pua.” This is the account name for UCPUA@pa.gov. The department submitted this communication to all claimants who have emailed UCPUA@pa.gov since March 15 as a follow-up during a special review of emails.

Claimants concerned that this email may be a phishing attempt and hesitant to reply to the sender can provide the requested information directly to UCPUA@pa.gov

Any PUA claimant with outstanding questions or concerns about their claim is encouraged to submit the following information directly to UCPUA@pa.gov:

  • Full name as it appears on their claim
  • User ID number
  • Last 4 digits of their Social Security number
  • Telephone number
  • Best time to contact by telephone if needed
  • Brief description of the issue on their claim

For more information on identifying fraud, what to do if you believe you have been a victim of fraud, or how to report fraud, visit L&I’s website.

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry