Justice Department Warns of Fake Unemployment Benefit Websites

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It’s one more issue for jobless Americans and state workforce agencies to be concerned about.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned this week that it’s receiving reports of scammers trying to capture people’s personal information by creating imposter unemployment benefit websites.

DOJ says that fraudsters are sending text messages and emails made to look like they’re from state workforce agencies, with so-called phishing links meant to lure people to the fake sites. 

The idea is to trick people into thinking they're applying for unemployment benefits and disclosing personal data. Criminals can then use that information to commit identity theft.

While the issue is a concern for out of work Americans, it’s also one more problem state workforce agencies may have to worry about. 

The agencies have dealt with processing an unprecedented swell in unemployment claims during the past year amid the coronavirus pandemic. And there are reports that scammers have been able to defraud states of billions of dollars in illegitimate benefits. 

Meanwhile, about 10 million Americans—at least—remain unemployed as fallout from the virus continues to batter key parts of the economy and Congress is on the cusp of again providing bolstered jobless benefits as part of a $1.9 trillion aid package now being debated in the Senate.

The Justice Department says if people receive a suspicious text or email claiming to be from a workforce agency, they should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling (866) 720-5721 or using the center’s online complaint form.

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