How not to get scammed if you’ve been laid off by Covid-19 (1/2)

Top 5 unemployment scams targeting those laid off by Covid-19


Hi guys, if you or someone you know of is one of the millions of Americans who have lost their job due to the Coronavirus pandemic this could be important. Unemployment scams have skyrocketed in recent months and the last thing we need in this economy are more victims, don’t’ you think? So we’ve done a 2 part series to help you and your loved stay safe in these uncertain times, so we’ll first discuss the top 5 unemployment scams targeting those laid off by Covid-19, then 8 tips to avoiding unemployment-benefit scams. But first, let’s start with why this is happening now.

As you probably already know, unemployment offices nationwide have been overwhelmed by unemployment claims. Most notably, it’s been almost impossible to reach anyone by phone and the claims websites have been crashing left and right. These problems have been a real help for scammers who have used this opportunity to steal unemployed American’s benefits, money, and personal information and then commit crimes such as identity theft and fraud.

These guys are tricky and they’ll try to fool you in different ways. Here are the Top 5 you should really know about.

1. Phishing email scams

One of the most common unemployment-insurance scams involves phishing emails. Phishing emails are sneaky – they’re designed to look they’re from a reputable source but want you to click or download something bad.

Scammers will use these phishing emails to trick you into sharing personally identifiable information like your Social Security number, bank and credit card information, health care information or other sensitive data that could help them take your identity and commit fraud and theft in your name. At the very least, phishing emails may come with attachments that download malicious software onto your computer.

These recent scam emails claim to be from the  U.S. Department of Labor or your state’s unemployment-insurance office. The message might offer to help you file your claim or say something like “the unemployment-insurance claim you filed is incomplete” and to provide more information. Here’s the red-flag: the email may ask questions that are unrelated to you or your claim such as mother’s maiden name or access to your online bank account.

Phishing emails also may ask you to click on a link that directs you to a fake website that asks for personal information – or encourages you to click on another dangerous link that could download malicious software, such as ransomware onto your computer.

One particularly recent successful scam has shown up in several states is an email from “Unemployment Assist. ” Its subject line reads: “ID Eligibility Requirement 1: Must be Available for Work” or “Verification Required: 2nd Request.”

The fraudulent email claims that you must provide certain personal information to either file or complete your unemployment-insurance claim. Don’t do it! Hit delete.

2. Debit and direct deposit card scams

Debit and direct deposit card scams focus on the weaknesses of how some states issue benefits, namely electronically. We’ve seen scams that asks for personal information to apply for a direct deposit card or apply for a card and then charges you for inactivity. Always do your research – a quick Google search can help you verify that the source of a payment-related offer is legitimate.

3. Fake phone call scams

Many states are seeing scams that involve fake communications via phone calls and text message. Here’s how these  scams work:

You may get a text message or a phone call from a robot stating that your unemployment benefits account has been suspended and to call a number to have it reactivated. Call that number and you may find someone with a thick accent trying to hustle you into giving up your personal information and bank account numbers.

Keep in mind that state unemployment-insurance programs won’t contact you by text messages or robodialer. If you’re receiving one, it’s fake.

4. Jobseeker scams

Because so many people have lost their jobs and are on the lookout for new ones, scammers are on a sucker hunt pretending to be potential employers. They may contact you by phone or email and try to trick you into believing they have a job opportunity or a way for you to make money by working from home. Job fraud is nothing new and seasoned scammers are good at convincing unsuspecting victims into give up their personal information and bank account numbers. You’re probably wondering about the motive – well it’s mostly money laundering. They are looking for people who will allow them to pass money through their personal bank account, and thus create a chain of money hand-offs to fund human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorist groups crime syndicates. These guys are smart and highly organized, so the best way to avoid being a part of all this is to be on the look out to identify tell-tale signs. Here are a few:

  1. They request personally identifiable information, specifically your Social Security number.

  2. The job offers seems too good to be true.

  3. Multiple communications from senders or callers that you don’t recognize.

  4. Vague details in the job listing.

  5. References a resume that you didn’t post online.

  6. Offers to sell you something like a “starter kit.”

  7. Offers to pay you with bank account transfers.

For example, Costco recently issued a warning about a particular scam: an email with a subject line that reads “Provisional Job Offer” and claims Costco Wholesale is hiring. Some of the scam emails ask for a processing fee.

Costco says the scammers are using the company’s logo and might look authentic, but they’re all fraud. The company says it would never offer a job via email to a prospective employee it doesn’t know.

5. Fake website scams

Scammers have been erecting websites to fool victims into sharing personal information or downloading malicious software, long before the Covid crisis. These new ones we’ve seen claim to help you file your unemployment-insurance claim and collect your benefits.

Of course, these phishing sites are scams. Only you can claim your unemployment benefits. The scammers’ goal is to collect as much personal information from you as they can get, then use it for financial gain at your expense.

In our next segment in this 2-parter we’ll go over 8 tips to avoiding unemployment-benefit scams. If you found this information helpful, feel free to pass it along to someone who you think might benefit from it, or better yet, like this video and subscribe to our channel.

I’m Attila from Cylanda. Stay safe out there.