Officials warn against fake unemployment claims

Coronavirus

Multiple states have been victimized by imposters, that’s part of an international crime ring, trying to grab unemployment benefits during a time when unemployment insurance claims are at an all-time high. The U.S. Secret Service issued an alert about it. The state Labor Department says it’s investigating whether it’s happened here in Hawaii. The state says it’s monitoring fraudulent unemployment insurance claims and says current and new claimants will not see a delay in benefits.

The Labor Department says it was “alerted that potentially fake claims may be filed using previously stolen or fraudulent personal information, however, no personal information from claimants have been stolen from the Department.”

And the matter is under investigation.

“I do know that both Department of Labor and Department of Taxation have taken additional security measures with respect to the pandemic unemployment assistance,” said Rep. Aaron Johanson, Labor and Public Employment House Committee Chair. “It’s a new infrastructure in every state. There’s suspicion that that might be where there might be greater rates of fraudulent claims.”

The state is also coordinating with the Hawaii Bankers Association to identify suspicious accounts. The Better Business Bureau tells us banks have had deposits from the Washington State Unemployment office into bank accounts in Hawaii.

“An authority at one of the banks has said they have seen deposits put into clients’ accounts that the client was not aware that they were receiving this money. So the banks are asking if that should happen to somebody for them to contact the bank directly and don’t spend the money,” said BBB Hawaii Marketplace Manager Roseann Freitas.

Freitas says it’s hard to know if you’ve become a victim, but if you are, you would hear from your employer’s Human Resource Department. And because this involves identity theft, you should contact the police.

Those who suspect an imposter claim has been filed in their name should call the Unemployment Insurance Division as well. That number is 808-586-8947. Experts also suggest monitoring your bank accounts and checking your credit report.

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