COVID-19 has impacted corporations in more ways than just how they conduct business. As business owners adjust to the ever-changing regulations, a new concern has become apparent. With the various stimulus packages and added benefits to unemployment benefits - unemployment fraud is on the rise, making it easier for fraudulent requests to hide or “get lost” in the system. In June of 2020, more than 5,000 cases of potentially fraudulent unemployment claims were reported all stemming back to foreign criminal enterprises. So, what do you need to know?
1. What is unemployment fraud:
There are a few ways in which a person can commit unemployment fraud. One way is to continue receiving benefits after already returning to work. Another, is reporting inaccurate or incomplete information.
Becoming increasingly popular- unemployment fraud also happens when a person knowingly uses someone else’s personal information such as their Social Security Number, home address, and date of birth to file and collect unemployment benefits. In order for someone to commit this fraud, it means they have stolen someone else’s identity.
2. The government will only send mail to contact you:
If you are receiving phone calls from the government stating that your private information has been compromised or you owe taxes, hang up right away. It’s a scam! The government will actually never call to tell you this unless it’s an extreme and special circumstance. You will also never receive an email from the government telling you your information has been compromised. This is a phishing attempt- don’t click anything or enter in your information! Unfortunately, the only way to know if a false report has been filed is for it to come through the mail or apply for benefits.
3. Who is at risk of becoming a victim?
Those who have already been a victim of identity theft or those associated with a data breach are at an increased risk. It is important to contact your account holders (banks, credit cards, other personal accounts) and place a fraud alert on your credit report if you believe you have become a victim.
Whether you were a victim to employment fraud or not- as a business owner or employee, its important for you to reinforce your cyber security. As a business owner, start implementing preventive measures. Learn tips on how to spot IRS and Social Security scammers. Make sure websites are secure before entering in your personal information as well. Also, create strong passwords and enable two-factor authentications on key accounts. Most importantly, don’t share your personal information unless absolutely necessary.
Alex Bulmer - Three Pillars Bookkeeping and Business Services