How serious is the problem of scammers filing for unemployment benefits using stolen personal information in Texas?
Between March 2020 to April, the Texas Workforce Commission received more than 4.4 million unemployment applications.
Of those, 611,000 claims were suspicious, and most were blocked before benefits were paid, according to officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office are receiving three to four telephone calls every day from residents whose identities have been stolen.
That’s why Tarrant County prosecutors are warning residents to be on alert for their identities being stolen.
“At a time when people need help, they are having their identities stolen and fake employment claims filed,“ said Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson in a Tuesday news release. “Stay alert, document any problem and report identity theft to your local police.”
Prosecutors noted that the scammers take someone’s information such as name, address, Social Security or credit card number and assume that identity.
Residents who are currently working, but receive an unemployment claim should not ignore it, prosecutors said.
“You have to be proactive,” said Lloyd Whelchel, a Tarrant County assistant criminal district attorney and chief of the white collar crimes unit. “You can’t sit back and wait. Document everything and notify officials that you’ve been a victim. You need to clearly establish that this was not you.”
Officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office offered these steps to take if your identity has been stolen:
▪ File an ID theft report with your local police department.
▪ File an ID theft claim with the TWC: https://www.twc.texas.gov/reporting-fraud or contact the Fraud department at TWC.email@example.com or 800-252-3642.
▪ File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud at https://www.justice.gov/disaster fraud or call their hotline at 866-720-5721.
▪ Read about identity theft at https://www.identitytheft.gov; consider contacting a national credit bureau – TransUnion, Experian or Equifax – to put a fraud alert on your account or freeze your credit.