Washington State has become a target of fraudulent unemployment claims. City, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating after a rise in unemployment fraud claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fraudulent unemployment claims cross many employment sectors; while it is too early to cite any definitive source, this state-wide issue may be associated with past breaches of data security in large company systems (e.g. Premera, Target, Equifax) which compromised personal data for more than 40 percent of Americans.
Many people (who had not filed unemployment claims) received a letter from the Washington State Employment Securities Department or from their employer’s Human Resources department that an unemployment claim has been filed on their behalf.
If you haven’t received a notice from your employer, but you want to check yourself, one way is to create an account with the Washington State Employment Security Department. Creating an account IS NOT an application for unemployment benefits. When you are asked to “Verify Your Identity”, they will let you know if your SSN is being used for an unemployment claim. (Note: I personally know people who have found out about unemployment fraud through their employer, as well as those who only found out by checking through the above link.)
If you are a victim of unemployment fraud, what should you do? Here are some recommendations:
- Contact your Human Resources Department.
- Contact the WA State Employment Security Department.