BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts is warning residents that people are using stolen personal information from previous data breaches to file for fraudulent unemployment claims as part of a national scam.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) said it has begun additional identity verification measures that will “temporarily delay the payment timeframe for many unemployment claims in Massachusetts” in response to the scam.
Some people who are filing for unemployment may be asked for additional identity information to verify their claim.
“Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are going only to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance,” said Labor and Workforce Development secretary Rosalin Acosta. “While the program integrity measures we are taking will unfortunately mean that some claimants will experience temporary delays in payment, we believe these steps are necessary to respond to this unemployment scam. We are working rapidly to respond to this scheme and urge individuals who may have had a false unemployment claim filed in their name to contact the Department.”
Some victims told WBZ they didn’t even know their information had been stolen until they received an unemployment letter in the mail.
“You feel very vulnerable in these types of situations,” Nicole Corbett said. “Other people in my town are compromised, other people I work with.”
Chris and Eileen Barnacoat also received a letter. “We’ve been retired for twelve years,” Chris Barnacoat said. “There’s no reason for us to file for any form of unemployment.”
“It makes me annoyed,” said Eileen Barnacoat. “There are people out there waiting for their unemployment money, and it’s gonna slow up everything for them.”
Edgar Dworsky, of ConsumerWorld.com, says the scammers got the information from databases where an account may have been hacked.
“The primary victim here is the state,” said Dworsky. “The state is sending out unemployment money meant for people who are legitimately unemployed, and it’s going to some crooks overseas.”
Anyone who believes they had a false unemployment claim filed in their name is asked to call the DUA customer service department at (877) 626-6800 or use a fraud contact form on the state’s website.