SOMERSET — Chief George McNeil and the Somerset Police Department advise community members to remain vigilant following multiple reports from residents who have had fraudulent claims for unemployment filed on their behalf.
“We’ve received a large number of complaints from residents reporting unemployment claims being filed fraudulently using their social security information,” Chief McNeil said. “Unfortunately, instances of this fraud have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic as so many people have been negatively impacted in these times.”
Instances of fraud have been occurring statewide over the past several months as those in possession of stolen personal information from prior national data breaches have attempted to file fraudulent unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistant (DUA) system.
Residents who believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using their personal information can report the fraud via a secure fraud reporting form or call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800, in addition to filing a police report.
The Somerset Police Department wishes to share the following tips from the DUA for those who believe their identity has been stolen and a fraudulent unemployment benefits claim has been filed on their behalf:
- File a police report with the Somerset Police Department at 508-679-2138. Get a copy of the report that you can provide to creditors and credit agencies.
- Change passwords on your email, banking, and other personal accounts
- Make a list of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions where you do business. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft, and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account.
- Get a copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent transactions. You can request credit reports online from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or by calling 877-322-8228.
- Place a credit freeze with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Call each of the credit reporting agencies at these phone numbers or visit their websites to freeze your credit.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file. You can do this by contacting just one of the credit agencies to add an alert with all three agencies.
- Take notes about all conversations and keep copies of all records.
The DUA also offers tips for identifying unemployment assistance scams:
- Caller Asks You to Pay a Fee: There is no fee to file for unemployment benefits. If you get a phone call from someone presenting themselves as a representative of the DUA telling you that you need to pay a fee to file for unemployment benefits, do not give any information to the caller or send money.
- False Websites: There are several websites that advertise that they can assist claimants in filing for unemployment benefits. Some of those sites offer services free of charge and others do charge for the services. The sites often ask for confidential/private information such as your Social Security Number, address, work history and email address. Use only the official DUA website to file for benefits.
- Mass.gov is the official state website
- The website for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/_/
- The claimant login website is https://uionline.detma.org/Claimant/Core/Login.ASP
- Emails and text messages: DUA may share information by email and text message, but these will always point you to Mass.gov resources. DUA will never ask you for private personal information such as Social Security numbers, or bank account or credit card information by email or text message. If you receive an email or text message and you are unsure if it came from the DUA, contact a claims specialist.
Additional information regarding common scam techniques can be found here.
Anyone who has questions or feels that they have been victimized are encouraged to call the Somerset Police Department at 508-679-2138.