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Unemployment Identity Theft and Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Unemployment insurance fraud is a national issue, and combating fraud is an ongoing agency priority. Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters and scammers have illegally obtained billions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits nationally. OED is actively working to prevent, detect, and investigate fraud. We take our obligation to protect your personal information, public dollars, and our Trust Fund very seriously.

Recognize and Avoid Unemployment Insurance Scams

In general, take these steps to protect yourself against unemployment scams:

  • Never give out your personal information over email or text message.
  • Don’t wire money, and always ignore the following requests:
  • Communications related to your UI benefits from someone asking for money;
  • Someone who says they can help you file for your benefits for a fee; and
  • Anyone claiming to work for the Employment Department who says they need a fee to complete your application.
  • We will never ask for money in exchange for you to receive your benefits.
  • NOTE: We do NOT text claimants.
  • Don’t trust or rely on UI info from unofficial websites – always visit unemployment.oregon.gov for Oregon unemployment benefits information.
  • Stay away from website addresses or email addresses that do NOT end in .gov.
  • Check that the Twitter handle is correct. Ours is @ORemployment.
  • Check how many likes and followers the Facebook page has. The official OED Facebook page has more than 11,000 likes right now and is verified (has a blue checkmark).

For more information, we recommend learning more about:

Unemployment Identity Theft

All states have experienced a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by criminal organizations using stolen identities they got from past national data breaches. Most of these breaches occurred in the past and involved larger criminal efforts unrelated to unemployment. Criminals are using these stolen identities to lie and fraudulently collect benefits across many states.

The scammers behind UI fraud appear to be using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to apply for and receive UI benefits. In many situations, the victims don’t know their personal information has been in the wrong hands.

To prevent fraudsters from committing unemployment identity theft, we have made our security and ID verification process even stronger by partnering with ID.me, a company specializing in digital identity protection. If you receive an email from ID.me, you must complete the verification process to continue receiving benefits.

Signs that you may be a victim of unemployment identity theft

Most victims of unemployment identity theft don’t know that claims have been filed and/or that benefits have been collected using their identities. Many people only find out unemployment identity theft occurred when they receive something in the mail, such as a payment or state-issued 1099-G tax form that is wrong or for benefits not received. Here’s an example 1099-G form.

If we have a valid mailing address on file for you, we will mail you an amended tax form. If you need an amended tax form for this reason, contact the Employment Department immediately through our Contact Us page. For assistance related to filing taxes, consult with a tax specialist.

You may be a victim of unemployment identity theft if you received:

  • Mail from a government agency about an unemployment claim or payment and you did NOT recently file for unemployment benefits. This includes unexpected payments or debit cards and could be from any state.
  • A 1099-G tax form reflecting unemployment benefits you were NOT expecting. Box 1 on this form may show unemployment benefits you did not receive or an amount that exceeds your records for the unemployment benefits you did receive. The form itself may be from a state in which you do not live or did not file for benefits.
  • While you are still employed, a notice from your employer letting you know your employer received a request for information about an unemployment claim in your name that you did not file.

What to do if you receive documents from OED but did not file for benefits

If you receive a 1099-G tax form from the Employment Department and you did NOT file or receive unemployment benefits, contact us immediately. If we confirm that ID theft took place, you won’t need to report the amount on the 1099-G to the IRS.

If you receive checks or a U.S. Bank Reliacard, mail checks and Reliacards back to the Employment Department:

Oregon Employment Department
PO Box 14130
Salem, OR 97309

Please include a brief explanation of why you are returning these items so we know what action to take, and let us know if you need to file your own claim for benefits. Once evidence is collected and it is confirmed that identity theft has taken place, we will cancel the checks and the fraudulent unemployment claim.

What to do if you are a victim of unemployment identity theft

  1. Report unemployment identity theft to OED as soon as possible by reporting it through the Employment Department ID Theft Reporting form, by calling us at 877-345-3484, or through the Contact Us page.
    1. You may not receive confirmation from us when you submit a report, but you may receive a call from an investigator if we need more information. NOTE: Caller ID may not say OED.
    2. We may request additional documentation (like a police report or a sworn affidavit) in order to complete the investigation. We will review your case and make a determination. Each state has different requirements and a different process for investigating identity theft.
    3. If you get a 1099-G tax form for benefits you didn’t receive, we will need to issue a corrected 1099-G tax form and will update the tax record with the IRS on your behalf.
    4. Victims of identity theft who spent the money or delayed returning it are encouraged to contact us immediately. Otherwise, you are responsible to report it on your tax returns, and you may receive a fraudulent overpayment in the future. (An overpayment is when you received benefits you were not eligible for. You will have to pay back the benefits received.)
  2. Work with a tax professional or follow IRS instructions to file your taxes if you received an incorrect 1099-G due to fraud.
  3. Check your credit report for suspicious activity or unauthorized lines of credit opened.
    1. Federal regulations let you request one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) through AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
    2. For information and steps to protect your credit even more, visit the Credit Report page on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer site.
  4. Change online account passwords and make your passwords difficult so others cannot easily access your accounts.
  5. Contact your financial providers (banks, credit card companies, etc.) to flag irregular transactions.
  6. Report unemployment identity theft that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud.
    1. In addition to reporting with the state, reporting with the National Center for Disaster Fraud helps law enforcement stop future unemployment identity theft. Filing this report with the National Center for Disaster Fraud will also notify the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, which is the primary agency responsible for investigating unemployment fraud. You may not receive a response back after submitting this information.
  7. Report identity theft with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or visit identitytheft.gov.
  8. Contact your local police department. They may also have other suggestions.
  9. Notify the Office of Inspector General that your social security number (SSN) has been fraudulently used at oig.ssa.gov/report
  10. Request a copy of your Wage and Benefit Report from the Oregon Employment Department to check for accuracy. You can request a copy through the Contact Us page or by calling (877) 345-3484.
  11. Contact the IRS to report the identity theft and that your SSN was used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim. Visit the IRS website to learn how to file your taxes after UI fraud or identity theft.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Unemployment insurance fraud occurs when someone provides wrong information or withholds facts on purpose so they can get benefits. If you hide or report wrong information on purpose, that is fraud. FRAUD IS A CRIME and can result in penalties up to and including criminal prosecution.

Employers and claimants can commit fraud under state unemployment insurance laws. Employer fraud can include doing things to avoid tax liability or creating a false employer account so fraudulent claims can be made against that account.

Claimant fraud can include:

  • Not reporting a job refusal or work you miss while claiming benefits
  • Knowingly providing false information or withholding information to get benefits
  • Continuing to collect benefits when knowing oneself to be ineligible
  • Failing to report all of your earnings when filing for weekly benefits
  • Not reporting your job separation accurately
  • Filing a claim using another person's identity

Additionally, identity theft may result in unemployment insurance fraud that is NOT the fault of the employer or the identity theft victim.

Every state is required, and expected, to enforce its own unemployment insurance laws.

How to report unemployment insurance fraud

If you know or suspect someone who is collecting unemployment insurance benefits illegally, report it to the Oregon Employment Department.

  • Report by Phone: Call Benefit Payment Control at 503-947-1995 or 1-877-668-3204

You can also report suspected fraud through our Contact Us page.

If you are an employer and believe someone may have received benefits that they were not entitled to, report it to us. IMPORTANT: Employees may still be eligible for unemployment benefits if they turn down an offer of suitable work due to COVID-19 related reasons* as defined in our temporary rules.

  • Report by Phone: Call Benefit Payment Control at 503-947-1995 or 877-668-3204

*Employees may still be eligible for unemployment benefits if they are:

  • Ill with COVID-19
  • Potentially exposed to COVID-19 and subjected to a mandatory quarantine period
  • Staying home to care for a family member, or other person they live with or who they provide care for, who is suffering from COVID-19 or subject to mandatory quarantine
  • Unable to work because they have to stay home to care for a child due to the closure of schools, child care providers, or similar facilities due to COVID-19
  • Asked to work when it would require them to act in violation of a mandatory quarantine or government directive
  • Unable to work because they have been advised by their health care provider or by advice issued by public health officials to self-quarantine due to possible risk of exposure to or spread of COVID-19

What to do if your benefits are frozen due to suspected fraud

If your Reliacard account was frozen due to suspected fraud and we confirm that fraud has not occurred, we will request the freeze to be lifted by U.S. Bank. You will NOT be able to speed this process up by contacting U.S. Bank yourself. Before lifting the freeze, U.S. Bank and the Employment Department may require you to verify your identity (ID). Be ready to provide proof of ID to U.S. Bank and the Employment Department.

If payments are directly deposited into your account and you did NOT sign up for direct deposit, contact us immediately.

If your claim is stopped due to suspected fraud, we will require you to provide proof of identity before we can resume paying benefits.

We have also partnered with ID.me to verify your identity. If you receive an email from ID.me, please complete the process to unfreeze your claim. DO NOT SHARE THE EMAIL. If someone verifies their identity who did NOT receive an email directly from us, their claim will be delayed.

Benefits won’t be paid on claims if your identity cannot be verified. It is your responsibility to obtain a valid ID, similar to the U.S. Bank process for verifying ID. If you need help getting or replacing an ID, the STEP program or 211.org may be able to assist you.

Hijacked Claims

A “hijacked claim” occurs when someone takes over your claim on purpose and continues to claim as YOU. They may change information on your claim, including your PIN and security questions, so that they receive your benefits. If you suspect your claim has been accessed or taken over by another person, report it to the Employment Department immediately. If a claim specialist suspects your claim has been hijacked, they will transfer you so that your claim may be investigated.

If we suspect identity theft, payment on your claim will stop. If you receive benefits via a U.S. Bank Reliacard, the card will be suspended until we can confirm if identity theft occurred. If you receive benefits via direct deposit, payments will be suspended.

  • Report by Phone: Call 877-345-3484

You can also report a suspected hijacked claim through our Contact Us page.

For claim records to be changed, all someone needs are your customer identification (CID) number and your PIN. It is your responsibility to make sure your PIN is secure and cannot be easily guessed by another person.

Do NOT:

  • DO NOT share your PIN with anyone.
  • Do NOT share your PIN with anyone who helps you file your claim.
  • Do NOT use the last four digits of your SSN.
  • Do NOT use birth dates.
  • Do NOT repeat numbers such as 1111 or 1234.