Unemployment Compensation Fraud
Unemployment Compensation Fraud is a very serious matter. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is committed to preventing, identifying, and blocking scams and is continuing its aggressive efforts to do so, including:
- Cross matching data with other state agencies and across the country to detect fraud activity.
- Working with the U.S. Department of Labor to prevent and detect fraudulent activities related to UC.
We encourage Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant and to report fraud or any potential concerns of fraud to L&I
. Cashing the checks or using direct deposited funds knowing that you have not applied for PUA or any other UC program may be deemed fraud and repayment will be required.
PUA Fraud Alert
The Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) security vendor ID.me has identified additional phishing attempts and fraud scams leveraging social media, text messaging, and email to lure unsuspecting individuals into providing personal information so that the scammers can claim their identity for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The most recent scams include but are not limited to telling individuals they’ve won contests, won a cash prize, being eligible for monetary award for applying for benefits or offering an alternative or “faster” application or mobile app to apply for regular unemployment or PUA benefits.
This is just the latest of attempts from scammers to use personal information to apply for benefits, similar to the large fraud attempt in June in which L&I mailed the Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim Filed to all claimants in the PUA system to provide further guidance if they did not submit a PUA application. This guidance still applies if you believe you have been targeted in the latest phishing attempts or scams.
If you were a victim of ID Theft, it is very important to report the PUA fraud activity to the Department and return the money. Doing so will remove these fraudulent payments from being reported as income on the end of the year 1099G distribution.
Please report PUA fraud activity by following the instructions:
We also suggest you report the ID theft to your local police department, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Victims of ID theft who spent the money or delayed returning it are encouraged to contact the Department immediately. Otherwise, you are responsible to report it on your tax returns, and you may receive a fraudulent overpayment in the future.
PUA earnings received by those who are receiving other state paid benefits, such as Department of Human Services or disability benefits are responsible to file PUA earnings on their yearly tax returns and are responsible for any negative impacts it may have on their other state-paid benefits.
If you provided your Personal Identifying Information (PII) to someone to file for benefits on your behalf, you are still fully responsible to report PUA earnings on your yearly tax returns.
Recognize and Avoid COVID-19 UC Scams
The scammers behind the PUA fraud appear to be using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to apply for and receive PUA benefits. In many situations, the victims are unaware that their personal information has been compromised. Following are some warning signs of a possible COVID-19 scam:
In general, take these steps to protect yourself against unemployment scams:
- For workers – receiving any type of correspondence that you filed an unemployment claim when you did not file a claim for benefits.
- For employers – if you notice a claim has been filed for one or more of your employees who are still working.
- Never give out your personal information over email or text message.
- Don’t wire money, and always ignore the following requests:
- Communications related to your UC benefits from someone asking for money;
- Someone who says they can help you file for your benefits for a fee; and
- 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:
- 888-313-7284 – regular UC
- 855-284-8545 – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) phone number
We will ask you for some personal identification information including the last four digits of your Social Security number if we call you, but we will not ask for your full SSN unless you call us.