By Chris Edwards
Officials and the Texas Workforce Commission are warning the public about a rise in identity theft tied to unemployment benefits.
Last week Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a news release highlighting the wave of fraudulent unemployment claims using stolen identities, statewide. “Unscrupulous criminals are victimizing Texans by stealing their identities and filing false unemployment claims,” Paxton said.
Paxton urged Texans who have received documents from TWC regarding benefit claims they have not made to report the claims and to “take appropriate steps to protect your identity.”
According to TWC, identity theft is one of the fastest-growing internet crimes in the country, with cases happening at record rates. The TWC unemployment insurance division’s primary goal is to pay benefits to recipients as soon as possible, according to its website, but to also implement and maintain rigorous measures to identify and prevent fraud.
Unemployment benefits identity theft occurs when a fraudulent claimant uses another person’s personal information, such as their name and Social Security number to file a claim in order to collect unemployment benefits.
“A growing cybercrime community on the Dark Web traffics in these stolen identities, passing them from hackers to fraudsters seeking to monetize your information,” a TWC news release stated.
According to TWC, when a claim is submitted for unemployment benefits, letters are sent out to both the employer as well as the claimant in order to confirm the application.
When someone receives a letter from TWC asking to verify an identity when a claim was not filed should report the incident to TWC, via its identity theft portal, located at https://www.twc.texas.gov.
From the period of March of last year to April of this year, of the 4.48 million UI claims received by TWC, more than 611,000 were tagged as suspicious.
The AG’s website also has resources explaining what identity theft is and what to do if one’s identity is stolen.