Mississippians who are employed are having unemployment benefits filed on their behalf, which could be a sign of identity theft and fraud.
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security has distributed over a billion dollars in unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, but some of those funds were taken illegally. The department is reporting a wave of fraudulent claims where people who never applied for unemployment received notice that they had been enrolled.
US Attorney Mike Hurst says this has been a nationwide issue, and he warns Mississippians that social media posts could lead to identity theft. He says “Some of these fraudulent unemployment claims are coming from breaches of data security, personal identifying information being stolen. Some of it is just nefarious individuals that we always see trying to take advantage of the system with their own information not being eligible. An estimated 26 billion dollars has been lost to fraud nationally.
Jackie Turner is Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. “Specifically in the last few weeks, we have heard numerous complaints and reports of fraud. We’re on top of it," says Turner. "We have many ways to combat it on the front end so it never gets started, but if those few that get through, on the back end please report it timely. And employers, when you recognize it, please report it as well.”
Officials say if you believe your information is being used fraudulently, you should report it to local law enforcement and email the department of employment security.