High numbers of people filing unemployment insurance claims has led to increased fraud and identity theft. Even if you didn’t file a claim, be wary – someone may have stolen your identity and filed fraudulently in your name. If you did file (or plan to), be sure to carefully protect your personal information.
Non-Claimants: Monitor Your Mail
Colorado unemployment benefits are being distributed in the form of debit cards from U.S. Bank. If you receive a debit card in the mail and weren’t expecting one, call U.S. Bank immediately (1-855-279-1678) to verify whether it is a fraudulent claim and deactivate the card. Then, report the fraud to the Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE)’s unemployment insurance fraud investigators. You should also contact the credit bureaus and file a police report. The steps to take are detailed on the department’s Fraud Prevention website.
Victims of identity theft will also find helpful information in the Colorado Attorney General’s Identity Theft Repair Kit. If somebody was able to get hold of your social security number or other personal information in order to file an unemployment claim, they may be using your identity to commit other crimes as well — so be vigilant and notify all of your financial institutions and the credit bureaus.
Claimants: Protect Your Personal Information
Unfortunately filing for unemployment benefits means divulging a lot of your personally identifiable information. There are ways you can protect yourself, however. Make sure you are the one who initiates the process. CDLE “will never contact you and ask for your social security number (SSN), bank account numbers, your PIN, account passwords, or any other personally identifiable information.” Make sure your phone, computer, and other devices have the latest security updates, and shred any paper documents that contain social security numbers, dates of birth, account numbers, and other personally identifiable information.
Claimants will find helpful information about the process on CDLE’s website and in their publication Your Guide to Unemployment Benefits. CDLE has also created a helpful series of “how to” videos, in both English and Spanish, for claimants. Additionally, an overview of unemployment insurance in Colorado and its funding related to COVID-19 are also available in the Colorado Legislative Council’s Issue Brief, Unemployment Insurance and Economic Downturns.
If You’re Aware Someone is Committing Fraud, Report It
Identity theft isn’t the only type of unemployment insurance fraud. Employers and claimants can also commit fraud by making false statements, not reporting or under-reporting earnings and benefits, failing to report other employment (such as part-time or self-employment), or fabricating work search efforts. CDLE has forms on their website that you can use to report individuals or employers who are committing unemployment insurance fraud.
Whether or not you have personally been affected by unemployment during these recent economic challenges, be sure to closely guard your personal and financial information and report any suspicious activity. Other kinds of scams are on the rise, too — visit the Colorado Attorney General’s stopfraudcolorado.com website for tips on how to protect yourself.