(WTAJ) — With an increase in fraudulent attempts to apply for unemployment benefits, state police offer warning signs, how to report and how to protect yourself from future scam attempts.

Criminals will frequently steal identities to commit fraud or to sell personal identifiable information to other criminals on the online black market, according to Pennsylvania State Police. Previously stolen information plays a role in the increase in fraudulent attempts to apply for unemployment.

State police note the following in a press release.

Signs of fraud:

  • Individuals receiving unrequested unemployment paperwork from the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I)
  • Individuals receiving unemployment benefit payments they did not apply for from the Pennsylvania Treasury
  • Employers receiving notice that a claim has been opened for current personnel who are actively working

What to do when someone files for unemployment benefits using your identity:

  • File a form online:
  • File via phone:
    • Call the PA Fraud Hotline at (800) 692-7469.
  • File a report with police:
    • Contact police in the municipality where you resided at the time the unemployment fraud occurred/benefits in question were paid. The incident number or equivalent proof of law enforcement investigation must also be provided to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.
  • Start a recovery plan with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft website.

Note: Failure to notify Labor & Industry of the fraud could result in an unjustified tax consequence at the end of the year.

How to protect yourself against unemployment scams:

  • Never give out your personal information over email or text message
  • Do not open or respond to unsolicited emails or text messages
  • Never give out your personal information on websites or social media channels – especially those that claim they can help you apply for unemployment benefits. Third parties can’t apply for your benefits
  • Do not trust or rely on unemployment benefits information from unofficial websites – always visit Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation website for Pennsylvania unemployment program information

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