Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning Arizonans about unemployment insurance fraud claims that could be related to possible identity theft.
Within the past few weeks, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has received several criminal complaints from Arizonans who received a letter from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) about their unemployment benefits, even though they did not apply for them. In some cases, the individuals were also mailed a debit card with unemployment benefits they did not sign up for.
“Arizonans who need unemployment benefits can be delayed or can’t get the assistance they actually need because of this type of fraud,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Ineligible Arizonans who receive notification of unemployment benefits or receive inquiries about benefits they did not initiate need to report the attempted fraud immediately and be vigilant to ensure their personal information has not been compromised.”
AGO investigators believe fraudsters are applying for the DES benefits using other people’s personal identifying information. It is possible that scammers are using personal information from victims obtained from phishing scams or previous unrelated data breaches.
If you receive a letter or debit card in the mail for unemployment benefits and you did not file for unemployment, you should immediately:
- Destroy the debit card you received after you report the fraud to Arizona Department of Economic Security.
- File a criminal complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office online or by calling (602) 542-8888 or (520) 628-6504.
- File a complaint with the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
- Alert your employer and Human Resources Department and ask them to flag any notice that comes from DES about a claim filed under your name.
- File a complaint with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. The FTC can also help with a one-year fraud alert on your credit, get free credit reports, and close fraudulent accounts in your name.
Attorney General Brnovich reminds consumers:
- Do not give out personal or sensitive information, including your Social Security number, to individuals over the phone or electronically unless you initiated the contact.
- A government agency will not call and threaten you to pay money.
- Make sure your computer and all electronic devices have the most up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software installed.
- If you know how the fraud took place (i.e. credit card, bank account, etc.) you should also immediately notify the credit card company/bank.
- You can also place fraud alerts on your credit reports.
Under Arizona law, a Fraud Scheme is a Class 2 felony. Identity Theft is either a Class 3 or Class 4 felony, depending on the amount of money stolen.
Additionally, a person who spends money from DES or any government agency that they are not legally entitled to could be charged under Arizona’s theft statutes.