Crime rings across the globe are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by attempting to commit large scale fraud against multiple state unemployment insurance programs and Idaho is not exempt.
These crime rings possess substantial databases of stolen personally identifiable information which is used to submit a large volume of applications for unemployment benefits. Scammers use the names and addresses of Idaho residents, but then have payments sent to bank accounts in other states or have bank cards mailed to different addresses.
The Idaho Department of Labor uses many methods to flag potentially fraudulent claims and stop them from payment until the fraud team can review and confirm identity on the applications. Currently, the department has thousands of pending claims that have been identified as potentially fraudulent. About 45 percent of the claims flagged for identity theft turn out to be fraud.
As Idaho works to stop these claims from being paid, some individuals may inadvertently be flagged and their claim held up until the identity can be verified. The compliance department at Labor is working through those claims as quickly as possible.
Unlike many states, Idaho is identifying these potential issues on the front end, stopping the claims from being processed. Each flagged claim must be reviewed by a fraud investigator to clear the stop before it can be processed. The unfortunate downside is that it adds to the backlog of claims and means some Idahoans will wait a little longer to get their claim approved while identities are verified.
Employers and Idahoans who have been possible victims of identify theft say they appreciate the department making combatting fraud a high priority. One Boise-area employer told the compliance department, “I appreciate your proactiveness and attention to our account.” A woman who had not filed for benefits, but had her name used in an application said, “Thank you for your quick response and reassurance.”
“We understand the challenge this pandemic has caused on multiple fronts and we are working diligently to get through these claims. Never before have we experienced such a large number of people seeking unemployment help at the same time. We want to get payments out quickly, but we have to balance that with the need to prevent fraud,” said Jani Revier, Idaho Department of Labor director.
If you are notified by the Department of Labor that a claim has been filed under your name when you did not file the claim, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not include personally identifiable information such as a Social Security number in the email.
Employers who notice a claim has been filed for one of their employees who is still working, should also alert the department. A Labor employee will follow up for more information.
Federal law enforcement agencies are working closely with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and state workforce agencies to combat this unprecedented onset of fraudulent activity.
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a fraud alert about another scam designed to trick people into giving personal information. More details can be found here.
Claimants with pending issues will get a call from a claim specialist. The caller ID will show as ID DEPT LABOR. People who need assistance with their claims should call (833) 410-1009.
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