The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced that its partnership with virtual identity verification vendor ID.me has been extended to provide identity verification for all new Unemployment Compensation claims.
“We take unemployment benefit fraud very seriously at L&I, and we are committed to working with our partners to prevent fraudulent claims and hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” said Secretary Jennifer Berrier. “Through our partnership with ID.me for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, we were able to prevent millions of dollars in taxpayer money from being stolen by fraudsters. By using ID.me for the Unemployment Compensation program, we can replicate this success.”
L&I first announced a partnership with ID.me in September after a surge of fraudulent claims were detected in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which is a special program created by the federal government to provide unemployment benefits to individuals who lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not typically eligible for UC. The fraudulent claims are not caused by a data leak or breach at L&I. They are being filed by fraudsters using identities stolen from data leaks that occurred outside of state government, said Berrier. ID.me adds a layer of security to L&I’s anti-fraud measures by requiring individuals filing a new claim to verify their identity.
While fraudsters initially targeted the PUA program, L&I recently noticed an uptick in fraudulent UC claims. The majority of fraudulent UC claims are stopped before payment occurs through other anti-fraud tactics. ID.me will catch many fraudulent claims when they are first submitted, allowing L&I staff to direct attention to other issues and preventing the individuals whose identities were stolen and their employers from needing to take any action. The use of ID.me also aims to deter fraudsters from attempting to file fraudulent claims, as demonstrated by a reduction in fraud attempts shortly after ID.me was put in place for the PUA program.
The identity verification step through ID.me has been integrated into the process to file an initial application and takes just a few minutes. As individuals log into benefits.uc.pa.gov for the first time, they will be walked through the steps of verifying their identity through ID.me.
L&I encourages individuals to remain vigilant about guarding their personal and confidential information and to monitor for signs that their information is being used fraudulently. Signs of fraud include:
– Individuals receiving unrequested unemployment paperwork from L&I’s Office of Unemployment Compensation
– Individuals receiving unemployment benefit payments they did not apply for from the Pennsylvania Treasury
– Employers receiving notice that a claim has been opened for a current employee who is actively working, or an unknown person
Individuals can report suspected unemployment fraud by visiting benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx and clicking on “Report Fraud” at the bottom of the page to complete and submit the Identity Theft Form. Do not log in. Employers should indicate the claim is fraudulent in their response to the Notice of Claim Filed.
To report identity theft fraud related to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, click here.
Individuals can also call the PA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-692-7469, or file a police report with the municipality you resided in at the time the unemployment benefits in question were paid. A copy of the police report must be provided to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.
The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that victims of ID theft should also report their information to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Victims should also consider starting a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission.