CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning that identity thieves are targeting millions of people nationwide with scam phishing texts aimed at stealing personal information, unemployment benefits, or both.
If you’re collecting unemployment benefits, don’t be fooled by a text that asks you to click a link to “make necessary corrections” to your unemployment insurance (UI) claim, “verify” your personal information, or “reactivate” your UI benefits account. The link takes you to a fake state workforce agency (SWA) website that may look very real. They ask you to provide your website credentials and personal information, like your Social Security number. Scammers can use the information to file fraudulent UI benefits claims or for other identity theft.
State agencies DO NOT sent text messages asking for personal information. If you receive a text or email from someone saying they represent a state agency, do not reply or click on any links. You should call the department directly.
You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you received:
- Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment and you did not recently file for unemployment benefits. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
- A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you weren’t expecting. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds your records for the unemployment benefits you did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which you do not live or did not file for benefits.
- While you are still employed, a notice from your employer indicating that your employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name.
To report unemployment fraud in Massachusetts, go to the Department of Unemployment Assistance website. If you think you may have entered your personal information into a fraudulent website, visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out how to make it harder for an identity thief to misuse your information.
You can report a suspicious text message or email claiming to be from an SWA to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by completing an NCDF Complaint Form or by calling (866) 720-5721, and the FTC.