Organized unemployment insurance fraud speads to New England, BBB says

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A man walks past a retail store that is going out of business due to the coronavirus pandemic in Winnetka, Ill., Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker announced a package of state grant programs that will help support communities and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest in the area.

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) –  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is issuing a warning for an unemployment insurance fraud scam that has recently emerged.

People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for unemployment benefits.

BBB says if this happens to you, it means someone is misusing your person information, including your Social Security number, and date of birth.

New York Times article in May 2020 claimed that according to a Secret Service memo, there has been evidence of unemployment insurance fraud emerging in a handful of states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Investigators estimate losses could reach hundreds of millions of dollars and noted that attackers appear to have extensive records of people’s personally identifiable information, according to BBB.

“This scam is dangerous because people may not even know that someone is using their personal information for unemployment benefits until they are contacted by their employer or by their state unemployment benefits office,” said Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the local BBB. “If they have your personal information to steal unemployment benefits, they can also use that information to do damage in other ways as well.”

States throughout New England including Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont have since added additional identity verification procedures to prevent paying fraudulent claims.

“Unemployment benefits fraud has certainly been a significant issue in our state, particularly during these unprecedented times of record unemployment due to the pandemic,” Kristy dosReis, Public Information Officer with the Office of the Attorney General of Rhode Island said.

What BBB says you MUST IMMEDIATELY DO if someone files for unemployment with your personal identifiable information:

  • Contact the HR Department where you work or last worked
  • Contact the State Unemployment Office immediately
  • Inform your banking institutions
  • File a report to your local police department
  • Change passwords to sensitive accounts including banking, email and other personal accounts
  • Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (ExperianEquifaxTransUnion) to add an alert on your credit file and search for any other fraudulent transactions on your credit report.  Visit for FREE,
  • If your credit reports are not frozen, BBB strongly recommends you freeze them, it is a free service provided by all three credit reporting agencies. You can always temporarily unfreeze them for free when applying for credit
  • Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at
  • Keep all documents and records of conversation
Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News, Rhode Island