Fraudulent Unemployment Insurance Claims

Updated 07/02/2020

As you may know, cases of fraudulent Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims have become widespread across the country. New York State (NYS) has recently issued a fraud alert to protect New Yorkers from scammers who are using personal information to file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.

    Important

    Individuals who have been contacted by the NYS Department of Labor (DOL) about unemployment benefits they did not apply for must be aware of the possibility of identity theft.

    Unemployment Insurance Fraud

    • There have been several cases at the University where unemployment claims have been fraudulently submitted to the NYS Dept. of Labor (DOL) by unknown individuals posing as university employees.

    • This scam is believed to be done by an off-shore, organized crime ring which is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the overwhelming number of individuals making unemployment insurance claims.
       
    • States have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last few weeks. 
       
    • It is very easy to make a UI claim with typically only a social security number, date of birth and the employer name needed.
       
    • Colleges and universities, as well as governmental agencies, are being especially targeted in this criminal activity.
    1. Contact Columbia University Human Resources
       
    2. Report it to the NYS Dept. of Labor Unemployment Insurance Program

      You can also file a complaint online with the Office of the Attorney General or call 1-800-771-7755.
       
    3. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
       
    4. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also offers information about identity theft and protection:
      • Consider whether you should file IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. A description of this event that could be used is: 

        On [Date] my current employer notified me that an Unemployment Insurance Claim had been filed on my behalf. Unknown person(s) used my personal information, including SSN, to fraudulently make this claim.

    Here are a few things to keep in mind when contacting the NYS DOL:

    • You may need to leave a voicemail message as they are very busy now with the pandemic.
    • Although the DOL outgoing message sounds like it is to be used to report the fraud of an employer, a DOL Representative has confirmed that either number is fine to leave a message on. If a voicemail is left, a DOL Representative should return the call.
    • The online link is a bit complicated and asks for a lot of details. However, you can also use their fax number (518-457-002 or 518-485-6172) and you should get a receipt.

    Additional steps you can take to protect your identity:

    1. Download a free credit report from one or all of the credit reporting agencies to monitor for identity theft and consider putting a freeze on your credit
       
    2. Remove your name from mailing lists of pre-approved offers of credit for approximately six months. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com for details

    In addition, the NYS Attorney General's Office has provided the following tips:

    • Be suspicious of anyone who calls you over the phone seeking money or personal information. If you owe money, you will receive a legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason you owe money.
       
    • Do not give out personal and sensitive information, including your social security number and bank account information, to individuals over the phone. In addition, ensure to independently verify the authenticity of the caller.