Beware Texans: Someone may be filing for unemployment benefits using your personal information.
This is the latest identity theft scam sweeping the country and officials encourage people to be vigilant.
"This is unacceptable," said Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney. "At a time when people need help, they are having their identities stolen and fake unemployment claims filed."
"Stay alert, document any problem and report identity theft to your local police."
Identitty theft is when an imposter uses someone else's information - name, address, Social Security or credit card number - to assume that identity. Scammers may have gotten personal information from data breaches in recent years and waited to use it until now.
If you lean there's an unemployment claim that identifies you, but you are currently employed, you shouldn't ignore the situation. Many people learn they are victims when they receive paperwork about a claim they didn't file, or when their employer notifies them about a claim.
Texas Workforce Commission officials report an increase in the number of false claims filed and say they've boosted efforts to thwart fake benefit claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received more than 4.4 million unemployment applications. Of those, 611,000 claims were suspicious, and most were blocked before benefits were paid.
Here are some 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
- File a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud
- Read about identity theft at https://identitytheft.gov/, consider contacting a national credit bureau - TransUnion, Experian or Equifax - to put a fraud alert on your account or freeze your credit
"You have to be proactive," said Lloyd Whelchel, an assistant crimincal district attorney and chief of the White Collar Crimes team. "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."