The unemployment benefits system became an irresistible target for all manner of fraud almost as soon as the COVID pandemic started in March 2020. The numbers of unemployed using these systems exploded by orders of magnitude, with a corresponding investment of benefit dollars, dwarfing anything ever seen before in the system.
So scammers were not far behind in plotting methods and schemes to defraud the system. I wrote about those schemes before, but now comes word of a new attack, seemingly directed against unemployment beneficiaries.
The Federal Trade Commission issued an alert Aug. 4 about beneficiaries receiving alarming text messages from what appear to be state workforce agencies. These texts ask the receiver to click on links to “verify information,” “reactivate” benefits, or “make necessary connections.”
If the unwary click open the link, they end up at a fake website, a close lookalike to the real state agency, where they are coaxed to enter social security numbers, login usernames and passwords and other personal information. Crooks want this kind of information to help them file more phony benefits claims, or for other identity theft.
No state workforce agency sends out text messages asking for personal information. Should such a text appear on your phone, do not reply or open any links.
If you’re not sure about the text you’re seeing, do a little research and call the state agency with a number you found online, not the one that just showed up on your phone.
If you already opened a text like this and gave out information, think really hard about taking steps to protect your identity. Get hold of me for advice.
CONTACT SENIORS VS. CRIME
Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 563-242-9211 extension 4433, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.