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L&I monitoring COVID-19 unemployment scams across U.S.; Pennsylvanians should stay vigilant and report suspected fraud

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Secretary Jerry Oleksiak announced the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is working closely with state and federal partners to monitor COVID-19 scams across the U.S. that are targeting unemployment benefits programs and their claimants. The scammers behind the COVID-19-related fraud appear to be using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information belonging to identity theft victims to commit unemployment compensation (UC) fraud. In many situations, the victims are unaware that their identity has been stolen.

In general, take these steps to protect yourself against unemployment scams:
• Never give out your personal information over email or text message.
 
• Don’t wire money, and always ignore the following requests:
      o Communications related to your UC benefits from someone asking for money;
      o Someone who says they can help you file for your benefits for a fee; and
      o Anyone claiming to work for L&I who says they need a fee to complete your application.
• 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.
• L&I may need to call you. 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:
      o 888-313-7284 – regular UC
      o 855-284-8545 – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) phone number

L&I will ask you for some personal identification information including the last four digits of your Social Security number but will not ask for your full SSN.

Ways to report fraud include: contacting the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469; filing a police report with the municipality you resided in at the time the unemployment benefits in question were paid; and reporting identify theft to the Federal Trade Commission and start a recovery plan at https://www.identitytheft.gov/.

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