HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – Unemployment fraud is soaring in Pennsylvania, and with the state’s recent switch to a new filing system, many can’t help but wonder is that what’s causing it.

Fraud victim Bonnie Foust asks what else is she supposed to think? “This has never happened, but soon as they put the new system in, I got hacked,” she said.

She wasn’t just hacked once, or twice, but three times.

“Oh my, it’s been terrible. It’s been 4 weeks since I’ve got a check…my rent is now almost two months past due,” said Foust.

According to Foust, the new site asks for too much personal information.

“If you click on banking information. It has your bank, your account number, everything on there. This is not something that should be put on a site that could be so easily hacked,” said Foust.

Department of Labor and Industry’s secretary Jennifer Berrier backs the new installation.

“These fraud attempts are not the result of a data leak or data breach on the part of L&I. Rather, this data was stolen through breaches that occurred outside of state government and then sold to fraudsters on the dark web who are now using it to file for unemployment benefits,” said Berrier.

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s Director of Government Affairs Alex Halper sais he’s seeing it across the board.

“We are hearing from employers all over PA of an explosion in cases of unemployment compensation fraud. Employers receiving notices for individuals who were never employed there or individuals who are still working there, or even the CEO themselves. And they are receiving information about unemployment cases opened that they did not do, so it is a huge and increasing problem,” said Halper.

With fraudulent claims on the rise, Halper says long-term implications could be on the horizon.

“For employers, for the business community, we have this huge unemployment compensation debt that we’ve accrued with the federal government where employers are going to be paying higher taxes in the years ahead to pay off that debt, and if a significant portion of it is fraud, then that’s a serious concern,” said Halper.

To combat this from happening Halper urges Pennsylvanians to stay vigilant.

“Keep an eye on your credit report, check your bank account,” said Halper.

He also advises reporting fraud, to not only the Department of Labor and Industry, but the local police department as well.

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