With the increase in unemployment benefits, unemployment fraud is on the rise. The Seattle Times reported that over 700 fraudulent claims were reported this month, adding up to over $1.6 million.
How does this impact employers and what should you do?
Pay attention! When you receive a notification of an unemployment claim…read it! Have you laid off that individual? Are they still working for you? Many employers, especially under the current conditions with layoffs abounding, are inclined to dismiss the notification, as they don’t plan to contest the claim. This is dangerous, as it may be the only way the fraud is identified in a timely manner. While it may take time to sort through the paperwork, track who is working, who is not, how many hours, etc., it is worth the effort!
Contact employees! Communicate with impacted employees to verify the information. Did they apply? If they did not apply, refer to the reporting steps below. If they did apply and they are still working, then you have a completely different disciplinary issue to discuss with the HR Hotline!
Notify IT! Let your IT department know of the fraudulent claim so that system security can be checked to ensure that the data breach did not come from your end. If it did, it should be addressed immediately and a data security attorney or your cyber security insurer should be contacted, and employees must be notified.
Report it! Employers should promptly notify the Employment Security Department (ESD) that the employee is still working, and the claim is suspected to be fraudulent.
Provide the steps below to affected employees. Cyber-crime investigators are recommending the following steps for anyone who knows, or believes, they are a victim of unemployment fraud:
Step One – Contact HR
Step Two – Contact WA State ESD
Step Three – File a Police Report
Step Four – Contact Credit Bureaus
Step Five – FTC & IRS
Step Six – Keep Your Notes
If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, the ESD urges you to make a report at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud.
Please be aware that you will need the following information:
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