With the thousands of unemployment fraud cases occurring around the country, here are some helpful tips on preventing this from happening to you and how to respond if you find yourself a victim of unemployment fraud.
- Create a Secure Access Washington Employment Security Department account at https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/ (or similar for your state) to make sure no one has already used your social security number to create an account.
- Keep your social security number and other personally identifiable (PID) information secure.
- Never send your social security number or other PID via email, even internally.
- Use unique, complex passwords and 2-factor authentication on all accounts with PID and store your passwords securely in a password locker (1Password is recommended by experts).
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Consider using fake info for security questions (and then store your answers securely in your password locker).
- Don’t allow auto-fill of user names and passwords for sites that contain PID.
- Ensure that websites where you submit information are using security protocols (look for the lock symbol at the beginning of the URL).
- Keep your social security card, passport, and other sensitive information locked in a filing cabinet or safe.
- Check https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see if any of the accounts you’ve had might have been compromised and make sure you are not using any of the passwords you used on those accounts anywhere else, especially on accounts with sensitive PID or payment information.
- Set up fraud alerts on your bank accounts and with the 3 major credit agencies. If you do not already have an account, you may need to set one up with each agency. Note that all 3 agencies have increased their allowance of free reports from one per year to weekly, through April 20, 2021.
- Be careful not to fall for hacker tricks. Get trained on preventing becoming a victim of those tricks. Free online cybersecurity courses:
- Report the fraud to your local unemployment agency. The link for Washington State unemployment fraud reports is: https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/file/SecureUpload/unemploymentfraud/report.
- If you haven’t already done so, put an alert on your credit files with the three reporting agencies and consider putting a freeze on the accounts.
- Contact your credit card companies, banks, mortgage company, and other financial institutions, and let them know your social security number has been compromised.
- Change the passwords.
- Add 2-factor authentication if you haven’t already done so.
- Use any features they have to enhance the security alerts, including two-factor authentication.
- Change the PIN on your debit cards.
- Change passwords on various services, especially those that have payment information or other PID or that could be used to verify identity (utilities, phone, internet, cable, PayPal, etc.).
- Ask your accountant to make sure no one has filed a tax return with your SSN or set up an account with the IRS to check yourself.
- Review this https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft.
- Report to identitytheft.gov.
- File a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Center.
- Create or log into your My Social Security account and verify the information is correct.
- Report the incident to the local police via their non-emergency website or phone # (if they take such reports).
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