Someone Applied for Unemployment Under My Name
June 26, 2020 3:55 PM   Subscribe

It appears that someone applied for unemployment benefits under my name in NY and I'm not sure how to proceed.

Yesterday evening I received in the mail (well within the last three days, I only check every other day or so) a Monetary Determination of Benefits letter that was dated 6 days ago. It had my employment information and social on it (correctly, so it was definitely based on me) but had my name slightly wrong. The error in my name is a common mistake that shows up in some phonebook searches on my address, so I suspect that who ever applied just pulled my name and address from the phonebook. I can't tell if they needed my SSN to reach this point in the process.

The letter indicates that there was an application for benefits but seems to indicate that they haven't been paid yet. I tried logging in with my ID that I use for taxes and DMV but the indication was that a different account was already tied to me in the DOL web site.

It's been impossible so far to get in touch with the NY DOL, calls to the automated line are useless since I don't have a PIN (I've never applied for unemployment) and there is no way to get a human before that point. The technical support line (for the online account) hangs up on you.

I filed a potential fraud notice over the phone (you record a message), I sent a general message to the Department of Labor via the web site contact form explaining the issue and I put in a request for service over DM on twitter which took my phone number.

I contacted my employer's HR to let them know and ask them to contest any claim and I've frozen my credit reports just in case. Nothing odd is showing on my credit.

I'm at a loss for what else to do. From what I read, it seems to take months to get a human on the phone at the department of labor right now, I don't know what information who ever did this has about me, and I don't want to some how be on the hook for any payments that do go out.

Is there anything I'm missing in terms of places to contact and actions to take? Has anyone been through this?

I also wonder if having a lawyer involved would help (and if so if anyone had any recommendations)?

I'm in the NY metro area.
posted by NormieP to Law & Government (6 answers total)
This happened to me last month in RI. It was a widespread problem, to the point where there was a link to fill out a fraud report added to the Dept of Labor and Training's website. It was thought to be related to the Equifax breach. I filled out a form to report it to the state police and a few weeks later got a letter stating that the claim had been canceled.

So I'd contact your state police financial crimes division, as that's what I had to do.
posted by Ruki at 4:28 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

I am in NY. I have seen this happen pre-covid. I think you contacted the correct people. The letter itself should have a contact. I assume they are going for a benefits debit card. Check your mail daily to make sure if there is one sent to your address and it appears as if they are using your address, you get it. I would sign up for Informed Delivery with the USPS so you get an email daily with what mail you are getting that day. Regardless, I would contact the NYS AG's office too.
posted by AugustWest at 5:34 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

AugustWest - Good call on the debit card, one showed up in my mailbox today (though worrisomely not the default benefits card that nys uses but is one that you can supposedly get an instant routing number for benefits deposit). When I called the issuer they told me it had already been blocked two days ago. The whole interaction was kind of odd. I'm hoping they just used a bogus SSN because they don't have my real one and somehow it got closed when the bank tried to verify it.

I'm going to call the police in the morning and file a report since now I'm worried that someone is going to come messing around with my mailbox (which is locked, but still).

Informed Delivery is a good idea, though apparently I have to wait for a card in the mail to verify.
posted by NormieP at 9:23 PM on June 26

Is there a “forgot username” option on the site? Can you use it to get the username they used, perhaps by verifying your SSN or other info from the letter the office sent you?

If you can get the username, maybe you can also reset the password on the account. Or at least attempt to login enough times to initiate a security lockout on the account so they can’t login either.

Pretty much can you hijack the account? Then you could change the password and lock them out.
posted by itsamermaid at 11:06 PM on June 26

This happened to an employee at our company just this Friday. I found it really easy to get to a human at the DOL in New York (maybe because I followed the telephone chain for employers instead of employees?). The person I spoke to said they have seen a huge increase in this type of fraud over the last few months. He had me fax back the Unemployment claim to the DOL stating that it was an invalid claim and the employee hadn't filed for unemployement written on the paperwork. He also gave me a website for the employee to go to to report the fraud.

Fraud Report Link

We also told the employee to check and freeze their credit report just in case. The form had their correct name, correct social security number, but the wrong address - we are assuming the incorrect address is where the Scammer was having the debit card sent.
posted by Julnyes at 9:28 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]

When I spoke with the police department, they first asked me if I worked for the local school system. Apparently lots of people there had the exact same issue.

Julnyes - I'm hoping that's what my employer ends up doing, I don't know if they'd be particularly responsive to me calling the the employer line, but it may come to that. I'll report via the fraud link once I have a police report (coming tomorrow). I did just tack on a fraud alert to my credit in addition to the freeze, that seems to be a common theme. Thanks.

itsamermaid - Sadly you need to know the email address of the account to try a hijack like you described - I did try. That will probably have to wait until I can get tech support on the line. Will try when they open first thing Monday morning.
posted by NormieP at 4:08 PM on June 27

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