HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program has been a magnet for scammers since it launched in March 2020. Pennsylvania officials on Feb. 16 warned residents to continue staying vigilant against unemployment compensation fraud.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has so far arrested 29 people in relation to unemployment compensation fraud, representing six individual fraud rings and $2.5 million in illegally acquired funds.
Scammers often use others personal information, such as usernames, passwords and Social Security numbers.
“A lot of identity theft doesn’t happen because you’re being careless. It happens because you’ve been implicated in a breach. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of information available on the dark web,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo.
Fraudsters often pose as employees of the Department of Labor and Industry or other government agencies in order to “help” claimants with issues, officials said. The scammers contact intended victims by calling, texting, emailing or messaging via social media.
In reality the Department of Labor and Industry only contacts people through email or telephone, never via social media. During a contact, employees never ask claimants for personally identifying information such as a full Social Security number.
Receiving the 1099-G tax form without having applied for unemployment compensation is another warning sign that fraud has occurred.
Officials ask residents to report suspected fraud immediately.
Identify theft can be reported by filling out Pennsylvania’s Identity Theft Form.
Victims of identity theft may also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission and start a recovery plan here.
Unemployment claims fraud can be reported by filling out the Unemployment Claims Fraud Form or calling the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469.