You may have heard the Employment Security Department (ESD) has seen a dramatic rise in imposter fraud. Imposter fraud has affected employees from the public and private sector alike. State agencies have not experienced any data breach; fraudsters have not stolen the information from state agencies. Instead, fraudsters are using information previously stolen from other sources and previous breaches and using that to apply for unemployment benefits.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has resources for victims of identity theft, available on their website.
Identity theft is a felony. We are told that the state is also suggesting people who have been victims of fraud to report it to the state and to victim’s local law enforcement. Depending on the jurisdiction of residency, some Pierce County residents may be able to submit a fraud/identity theft report online. A police report would be necessary for any future credit report issues. Like other fraud, there are difficulties if the suspects are from out-of-state or out of the country, but the FBI and US Attorneys are aware.
Additional information from the state:
- How to know if you are a victim of unemployment security fraud:
Employees and employers may receive a notice from ESD stating that you filed a claim. If you have not, you may be a victim of fraud. There are various instructions circulating on social media about how to check the ESD website for this information but their website is overwhelmed so please be patient and wait to see if you are notified first.
- If a fraudster uses your identity to apply for benefits:
If you are a victim of unemployment fraud you should also immediately contact the ESD by using their Fraud Reporting Form.
- What is being done by the ESD:
Washington’s ESD is doing a number of things to combat it, including: dramatically increasing the number of agents on the fraud hotline, hiring more fraud investigators, and creating a more secure portal where victims can submit information.
- Also, according to the ESD:
- If someone is a victim of fraud, s/he will not have to repay the money.
- If someone is a victim of fraud and then needs to apply for unemployment benefits, s/he will still be able to do so.