BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has released information about the impact of a national unemployment fraud scam on Massachusetts claimants.
The state reports that fraudsters have been using stolen personal information from earlier, unrelated commercial data breaches and continue to attempt to file large numbers of false claims through the Massachusetts unemployment system.
DUA has strengthened their identity verification process which has caused delays in payment for some claimants. DUA has also been working with state and federal law enforcement agencies, municipalities, and state constituent services to address the national unemployment fraud and recover fraudulent payments. They are using information from persons reporting that their identity was fraudulently used to file a claim and claims that have failed the verification process.
According to the DUA, their call center has 670 employees answering approximately 16,000 calls per day, with another 300 people who work verifying claims. The DUA customer service department can be reached at (877) 626-6800. The highest traffic hours for the DUA call center are on Monday mornings.
1099s Related to Fraud – 1099-G forms are typically sent to unemployment claimants for tax filing purposes, covering benefits received for the previous year. DUA has excluded sending 1099-Gs to individuals who reported a fraudulent claim filed in their name as long as the information matched with those in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Unemployment Insurance Online (UIO) systems. However, if an individual has received a 1099-G reflecting payments of benefits that the individual never applied for or received, they should fill out the fraud reporting form. DUA will issue corrected 1099-Gs for those individuals and will send the corrected information to the IRS and DOR as well. Individuals who receive a 1099-G in error will not be required to pay taxes on benefits.
Unemployment Insurance Phishing Scam – Claimants should also be aware of an unemployment phishing scam that is occurring in Massachusetts and similarly in other states. Massachusetts constituents have received a text message that includes a link requesting unemployment claimants enter their login and password on a site that looks similar to the official Unemployment Insurance (UI) Online website. If a claimant has received this text message, please do not respond. Responses to requests from DUA should only be uploaded through your secure account at https://uionline.detma.org/Claimant/Core/Login.ASPX or https://duaverify.eol.state.ma.us. DUA will never ask a claimant to reply to a text or email with personal information.
Massachusetts Unemployment Claimant Fraud Data—
- Unemployment claims submitted to Unemployment Insurance Online (UIO) – April 2020 through January 2021 Total claims submitted: 1.2M Total claims eligible to be paid: 957 KTotal claims denied: 261K Total appeals pending: 28K
- Unemployment claims submitted to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – April 2020 through January 2021 Total claims submitted: 946K Total claims eligible to be paid: 282K Total claims denied: 627K Total appeals pending: 40K
- Claims identified as fraud due to reporting by individuals – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: 156K
- Issued Payments Confirmed to be Fraudulent – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: $219M
- Additional Issued Payments which are Potentially Fraudulent – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: $468M
- Recovered Fraudulent Payments – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: $252M
- Total Confirmed Payments to Unemployment Claimants – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: $15.7B
- Fraudulent Payments Prevented from Disbursement – April 2020 through January 2021 PUA and UIO: $19.2B