Unemployed Connecticut residents aren’t the only ones waiting for the next pandemic relief check. There are a slew of fraudsters waiting to get their hands on the money. The state is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Department of Labor sent out an email this week to claimants to warn them of possible phishing scams. It says hundreds of unemployment recipients recently saw their unemployment deposits disappear into a Wells Fargo account that the bank says doesn’t exist.
“My account had been compromised and my deposit account had been switched to a Wells Fargo account,” Allison VanDenburg of Groton said.
U.S Department of Labor officials said in a recent email that they are seeing serious fraud activity emerging in Connecticut and a few other states where “fraudsters access user accounts and then change the bank account information to a Wells Fargo prepaid Paypal account in order to divert benefit payments.”
The Connecticut Department of Labor said in a statement “claimants can fall victim to fraud schemes that then compromise their unemployment accounts; numerous commercial breaches like Anthem, Equifax, and others—have also compromised personal information and put it out there for criminals to use to gain access to credit, banking, and unemployment accounts.”
The email reminds claimants that the Department of Labor would never call, email, or text to ask for their username or password.
“It’s more of a concern than a typical phishing scam campaign launched on other services,” Vahid Behzadan said.
Behzadan is a University of New Haven computer science professor who says both the government and the individuals need to protect their information.
“The government agencies responsible need to provide some education, some tips on how to keep the critical and personal information of the users of such web services secure,” Behzadan said.
The Department of Labor has been emailing claimants tips about how to protect their accounts and what to watch out for.
“It should be emphasized on every web page that these services are not going to email you or contact you and ask for your personal information,” Behzadan said.
The problem is widespread. In September, the U.S. Department of Labor announced $100 million in funding to support state efforts to combat fraud and recover improper payments in the unemployment insurance program.