Unemployment Scams in the Age of COVID

Scammers look for opportunities to, well, scam. If an opportunity presents itself to scam consumers for data, information, access, assets, or anything else of value, you can bet a scammer already has a plan to confiscate. The Age of COVID provides many opportunities for ne’er-do-wells to hijack innocent Americans and citizens worldwide as we navigate through this pandemic. And many times, unsuspecting individuals may not realize they’ve been scammed until it’s too late.

There are a couple ways that scammers are running rampant in the case of unemployment benefits.

Fraudulent Unemployment Benefit Claims – a scammer simply files a false unemployment benefits claim using the personal information of another person, either unemployed or employed. In this case, the thief gets someone else’s falsified benefits.

Phishing Attempts – Using emails, scammers try to trick people into giving them personal information that can be used for access to unemployment benefits. They may use the information obtained to file a fraudulent claim, change the banking information on legitimate claims (so that the victim’s benefits get redirected from their own bank accounts), or to steal additional personal information.

But employers can help! There are things your business can do to help employees reduce the risk and opportunity of being scammed. The efforts and technique your company uses to help employees may be different, but focusing on these key strategies can be sure to help:

  1. Educate your workforce. Building awareness with your employees of the genuine risk of unemployment scams is and. Train your employees on how to identify scams and often communicate about the latest trends. Provide an opportunity for employees who suspect they are being (or have been) scammed to report their suspicions to your human resources team and begin the process of recovery immediately.
  2. Review emails with caution. Refresh your employees on your cybersecurity best practices to minimize the risk of phishing scams. Remind them to hover, not click on any links in any emails from whom they do not recognize the sender. Reinforce the fact that workforce agencies will never use a secondary email account when sending or requesting information. Never follow an email’s links or directions when accessing an online account. Many free email hosts (think Google, Microsoft, etc.) have been “ghosted” so when a user clicks what they think to be a link to their account, they are redirected to scamming accounts. Always access your online profiles directly from the website.
  3. Prepare a scam response. Document your scam response and share it with your employees. Be sure to include the following steps: a) Alert your workforce. Let them know that a scam has been identified within your organization and remind them to be cautious. Let them know precisely where and how to report any suspicious activity. b) Report the fraud to your state’s unemployment agency c) Retrain employees on what to look for and reinforce your cybersecurity policies.

No matter how diligent your plan, no workplace is immune from the scammers. However, the best plan to avoid an attack is only ask good as its implementation. Now is the best time to address any issues. And as always, please call us at Davis Dyer Max, Inc. if you have any questions or have concerns about Unemployment scams.