Nationwide Impact: Unemployment Claim Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission has reported Americans have lost over $68 million dollars in fraudulent schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020.
Traditionally, unemployment benefits are low-dollar reward, high-risk scams for identity thieves. The CARES Act signed into law in March 2020 created the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) providing an additional $600 per week to individuals who were collecting regular unemployment compensation making this more lucrative for fraudsters.
The five states impacted most by fraud complaints related to COVID-19 are: Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii and Rhode Island. Additionally, there have been over 130 articles written about fraudulent unemployment claims since the start of COVID-19.
Who is Responding
The U.S. Secret Service launched an investigation on fraudulent schemes suggesting a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring was targeting state unemployment systems which is still under investigation. The FBI also issued a statement citing criminals may have obtained identifiable information through a variety of techniques, including online purchases of stolen personally identifiable information (PII), previous data breaches, email phishing schemes, and social media accounts, among other methods.
In April, Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a press release stating that after conferring with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, their office determined they were well positioned to help victims of unemployment fraud in Oklahoma and the OESC, which has seen an inordinate amount of complaints by providing additional resources to help process these fraudulent claims.
Impact on OSU
Once OSU Human Resources became aware of the pattern of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed on active employees, we began consulting with OSU Police and IT to ensure there wasn’t a breach of internal data. IT immediately launched an internal investigation and determined there was not a breach of data from the university.
To date OSU-Stillwater has processed 2,015 unemployment claims of which 1,327 were marked fraudulent.
How OSU Responds to Fraud Claims
When OSU receives an unemployment claim, the HR Consultant verifies the validity of the claim by comparing PII on the claim and through the employee. If it’s determined the claim is fraudulent, the HR Consultant provides the employee actions items to report, respond and protect their information. This process is reviewed and refined continually to ensure our employees have the most up to date information.
- The employee is asked to complete the Attorney General’s online fraud complaint form.
- The employee is asked to contact the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) to notify the bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using their identity.
- The employee is asked to provide the HR Consultant with a letter stating the claim was fraudulent and a response is sent to the OESC on behalf of the employee.
OSU Human Resources continues to work each active case we receive from the OESC and ensure employee information is protected. If you receive information at home that a claim has been filed under your name, but have not been contacted by OSU Human Resources, please contact us at 405.744.7607.