Thursday, September 16, 2021

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Never Sacrifice Computer Security
2021-07-21

            Each week the number of cases of reported unemployment compensation fraud grows on the police reports in the Town and Country.

            We're not alone – the number of cases has gone through the roof recently throughout Pennsylvania.  And, that's just the ones that are reported.

            The state attorney general's office is also getting inundated with reports.  Apparently fraudulent claims spiked during the pandemic when the federal unemployment assistance program began.  What they are seeing now is claims being filed by fraud-filing bots.

            Back in June, Pennsylvania unveiled a new, online filing system for unemployment claims. The web portal replaced decades-old mainframe technology with the aim of making the process more user-friendly and accessible all around. But, according to reports, that change was not accompanied with enhanced identification verification (it should have been) and it appears to be inviting a flood of fake claims.

            One Pennsylvania tax service reported that, before the switch, its company received reports of about 100 fraudulent claims filed per week.  Since the computer system switch, that total is now up to 71,695 claims per week.

            Pennsylvania Labor and Industry officials report that the fraud attempts are not a result of a data leak or breach on the part of L&I. Rather, this data was stolen through breaches that occurred outside of the state government and then was sold to fraudsters on the dark web.

            Because of the nature of the crime, and it being online-based, police departments say it's hard to track down suspects.

            Investigating agencies say their best advice is to file a report if this happens to you.

            You can file a report with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry at https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/Report-Fraud-Here.aspx.  Cashing the checks or using direct deposited funds knowing that you have not applied for PUA or any other UC program may be deemed fraud and repayment will be required.

            The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry offer the following warning signs of a scam: For workers – receiving any type of correspondence that you filed an unemployment claim when you did not file a claim for benefits; and for employers – if you notice a claim has been filed for one or more of your employees who are still working.

            Everyone needs to protect themselves from unemployment scams by never giving out your personal information over email or text message and avoid wiring money. 

            Officials also remind us to ignore the following requests: communications related to your UC benefits from someone asking for money; and someone who says they can help you file for your benefits for a fee; and anyone claiming to work for L&I who says they need a fee to complete your application.

            Also, don't open or respond to unsolicited emails or text messages. Never give out your personal information on websites or social media channels – especially those that claim they can help you apply for UC benefits. Third parties can't apply for your benefits; don't trust or rely on UC info from unofficial websites – always visit www.uc.pa.gov for Pennsylvania unemployment program information.

            If you file a claim, save the following unemployment phone numbers to your phone so you know you're receiving a legitimate call from L&I: 888-313-7284 – Regular UC; and 855-284-8545 – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  They will not ask for your full SSN unless you initiated the call.

            Now a word to government officials.  Don't be in such a hurry to say, "Look what I did to help you" that you sacrifice the security of all the people.

           


 

 

 

 

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