Convenience Stores: Pennsylvanians Worried About Unemployment Fraud Via New System

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – Pennsylvania has a brand new system for claiming unemployment benefits.

It launched in early June and was meant to be an improvement, but one of its convenience features appears to have opened up a new opportunity for fraud.

“I received an email notification about opening a claim on my behalf,” said Kevin Reiber of Northeast Philadelphia.

Reiber says he hadn’t filed for unemployment recently.

“I was alarmed that there was a claim that I had not filed. And on top of that, there was a bank account number listed for direct deposit that I did not recognize,” he said. he declared.

Reiber says he called the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation to file a fraud report, only to be put on a 149,000 ticket waiting list.

“They were around 115 at the time. So it’s been about two months since I put the ticket,” Reiber added.

In the meantime, Reiber tells convenience stores he’s been ripped off again.

He says someone called him posing as a state official with a seemingly legitimate badge number, official email address, and personal information about Reiber’s work history.

“She asked me to email a photo of my ID, social security number and recent bank statement,” Reiber said. As soon as I hit the send button, I immediately panicked. I knew I really messed up. “

RELATED: As Unemployment Claims Rise, Businesses Still Struggle To Find Workers

Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police issued an alert on unemployment fraud on Tuesday.

Lower Makefield Police are also sounding the alarm after seeing an increase in reports since the launch of the new unemployment claim system in June.

“Since that time we’ve had about 50 (reports),” said Lower Makefield Detective Sergeant Brian Omlor. “Compare that to just 25 complaints for the first five months of the year before the new online filing system was installed.”

Omlor says the first thing people should do if they find out that someone has fraudulently applied for employment benefits using their information is to report it to their local police department.

Second, file an online fraud report with the PA Office of Unemployment Compensation.

Finally, let your employer know.

Reiber says many more Pennsylvanians are vulnerable until the system is fixed.

“There is a loophole in the system. I feel like the state has let me down, along with many other taxpayers. They have practically given up on personal taxpayer information,” he said. .

To protect yourself as best you can, regularly check your credit reports for any suspicious activity.

You can also see if your email address or phone number has been exposed to a data breach by going to this website.

Pennsylvania state officials are expected to provide an update on the fraud issue on Wednesday, July 28 at 10 a.m.

They declined to comment when Action News asked about fraud in the past.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Labor and Industry responded with the following statement:

“Every state has faced increased unemployment benefit fraud for more than a year since the start of the pandemic. The majority of this fraud falls under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA) created by Congress and launched over a year ago. the increased availability of funding for other programs, such as the additional $ 300 per week provided by the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC), has also prompted fraudsters to attempt to file fraudulent claims in under the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program and its extension, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). The recent attention paid to the new unemployment system for UC and PEUC as well as the increase in fraud detection mechanisms in the new system have led to an increase in the number of fraud attempts discovered within these two programs.

While many types of fraud have existed throughout UC’s history, such as providing bogus salaries, the recent increase in attempted fraud has been linked to the leakage of personal and confidential data, such as telephone numbers. social security, from sources outside the state government. This USA Today article describes how hackers get someone’s personal and confidential data from attacks on private companies and often sell the information to crooks using the dark web.

To combat this national problem of fraud, the Federal Ministry of Justice has created the National Task Force on Unemployment Insurance Fraud. This task force brings together several agencies, including the United States Secret Service, the United States Department of Labor-Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the US Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Administration-Office. of the Inspector General; and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Homeland Security and United States Attorney’s Offices.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) continues to work with this working group, as well as other partners including law enforcement agencies, the Treasury, and the Attorney General. state, to identify cases of fraud and hold those responsible accountable. L&I is also working with these agencies, the Federal Department of Labor and other states to identify and block new fraud methods to thwart attempts by fraudsters.

Common signs that a fraudulent unemployment claim has been filed on behalf of a person include the person receiving the notification that a claim has been opened, as well as the employer of the person receiving the notice of the open claim. Additional fraud detection advice along with other key information can be found in this press release from an event hosted by L&I and Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office (OAG) Chief Assistant Attorney General Brian Zarallo.

If an individual or employer receives any documents that they believe could be related to a fraudulent UC claim, they can click the link at the bottom of Benefits.uc.pa.gov to go through the reporting process. “

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