BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Labor reports an increase in fraudulent unemployment claims.
The problem has become so prevalent, according to a representative, that the department of labor has teamed up with state and federal agencies to track down the crooks. Unemployment fraud could mean jail time and hefty fines, but Tara Hutchinson with ADOL said the consequences were not stopping swindlers from trying to get checks with stolen identities.
“There’s a lot of money out there to be obtained and you’ve got a lot of people out there looking to get the money, even if it doesn’t belong to them,” said Hutchinson.
The scheme can range from one person to a large operation of criminals working together.
Hutchinson said often times you’ll get a letter from the department letting you know a claim for unemployment benefits had been filed and if you didn’t file the claim, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.
“They need to report that to us. They can report it online at labor Alabama gov fraud, " She advised.
Hutchinson said the issue will be investigated and the victim would not be held liable if money was paid out.
“[The victim] would not be liable as long as we can prove they did not file the claim,” Hutchinson explained.
She said it’s extremely important you keep your personal information private and that ADOL will never ask you for your social security number.
“It’s important that you never pay anyone. We’ve seen a lot of people, fake pages--especially on social media--where someone will offer faster access to benefits, ‘hey I know someone at [ADOL] if you pay me $100, $200 I can get your claim moved up.’ Those are complete scams,” she warned.
Hutchinson said to also be careful of verified social media pages because they’ve also had scammers duplicate ADOL’s official social media pages and try to contact people.