AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Workforce Commission has identified and locked down 4,582 fraudulent unemployment cases this year.
“Historically when disaster unemployment insurance is made available TWC is hit harder with identity theft fraudulent claims,” said TWC communication specialist Cisco Gamez.
Gamez adds the agency has since processed 5 million unemployment insurance benefits. The Texas Workforce Commission has been flooded with claims since the pandemic left thousands of Texans without jobs.
“TWC is extremely proactive and has a high-risk suspicion claim detection toll on the front end that looks at all claims at the time they are filed,” Gamez said. “Even though our tools are very good it doesn’t detect all fraudulent claims so employers are expected to respond to suspicious claim filers immediately.“
Oftentimes, the agency will encounter scammers using people’s identities to apply for unemployment benefits.
In July, FBI’s National Office saw a spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims filed by people using stolen identities in multiple states. San Antonio FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee said the agency is monitoring fraud claims in Central Texas but is seeing increases instead in places like Washington D.C and Maryland.
“It is very likely that all of us, our personal Identification information has already been compromised so we need to anticipate that,“ said Lee.
Data breaches in years passed have compromised millions of Americans' personal information.
“If you have the means to be able to have a service which monitors your credit and notifies you when it is being used, that is very helpful,” Lee said. “There are a number of ways that our information is stolen by these criminal organizations and those unemployment insurance fraud cases seems just another example of how they are using that information.”
Lee advises Texans to be aware of phishing scams, internet hackers, and people who pose as government agencies.
Gamez urges people to be cautious and check their unemployment insurance accounts frequently. If they receive a letter in the mail from the Texas Workforce Commission without applying, call TWC to report the fraud claim and don’t give credit card information over the phone.
“TWC will never ask for your credit card number and state that there is any kind of fee associated with your claim,” said Gamez. “There is no fee for filing for unemployment insurance and a TWC cannot change your banking information.”
For information on how to recover from identity theft, click here.