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.