March 16, 2021
by Seena Gressin Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
At a time when many people left jobless by the pandemic are struggling to get by, scammers reportedly are using websites that mimic government unemployment insurance (UI) benefits websites. These sites trick people into thinking they’re applying for UI benefits, and they wind up giving the scammers their personal information.
The Department of Justice’s National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force reports that scammers lure people to their fake websites by sending spam text messages and emails. These messages look like they’re from a state workforce agency (SWA) and give people links to these fake sites. When people enter their sensitive personal information on the fake sites, the scammers can use the information for identity theft.
A report to the FTC even said one of the fake sites told people to click the link if they did not file for UI benefits.
Here’s what you need to know: An SWA will not contact you out of the blue.
SWAs will not send a text message or email inviting you to apply for UI benefits. If you get an unsolicited text or email message that looks like it’s from an SWA, know the steps to take to protect yourself:
Never click links in an unexpected text message or email claiming to be from an SWA.
If you have applied for UI benefits and get a text or email about your application, contact your SWA directly using contact information from its official website.
If you need to apply for UI benefits, use this link to find your state’s UI application page. Follow the directions you find there.
If you gave someone your sensitive information, visit IdentityTheft.gov/unemploymentinsurance to learn how to protect your credit from scammers or, if necessary, report that someone has misused your personal information to claim UI benefits.
If you get a suspicious text message or email message claiming to be from an SWA, please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by visiting justice.gov/disaster-fraud or by calling 866-720-5721. You also can report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. And please, tell the people you know about this scam. By sharing the information, you can help defeat the scammers.