Fraud Causing Delays in Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania – WPXI
PITTSBURGH – Unprecedented fraud and identity theft causes significant delays for unemployment beneficiaries in Pennsylvania.
More than 30 people have contacted 11 investigators in the past few days, desperate for answers as to why their unemployment claims are not being paid.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry says fraud is a big part of the problem.
“Fraudsters have increasingly targeted traditional unified communications in recent months, contributing to a backlog of claims awaiting eligibility determination,” wrote Alex Peterson, Labor and Industry press secretary, at 11 Investigates in an email.
11 Investigators’ Angie Moreschi spoke to a Pennsylvania unemployment beneficiary whose account was hacked. Read on to find out more about what happened.
Ryan, who asked us not to use his last name, had received his unemployment benefits for 23 weeks without a problem, but this week – with just three weeks to complete his 26-week claim – his payments stopped.
He saw the four words “benefit payment control audit” when he tried to file his weekly unemployment benefit claim on Sunday.
“That’s when I knew there was something wrong, and that’s when I started making calls.”
Ryan says he made endless calls to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Service Center over the past three days before finally finding someone who shed some light on the matter.
“They said to me ‘Look at your bank information’ and I said that I don’t have banking information because I use a debit card (to get benefits),” he explained. .
They made him watch anyway.
“They said, ‘Go ahead, maybe there is some banking information there,’ so I clicked on it anyway.”
It was then that he saw it.
“I told them it said ‘Wells Fargo’ and they said ‘Oh, you guys from Wells Fargo.'”
Ryan says the employee wouldn’t tell him anything else, but he doesn’t have a Wells Fargo account and never has. It was then that he said he realized his UC account had been hacked.
âI just want to know – is my information safe, and if they have my information, what they got. I think I have a right to know what’s really going on,â Ryan said, frustrated that it was so difficult to get information about what happened.
He did some research on his own, looking through his account to find that someone had tried to switch their payment information from debit card to direct deposit. He took a screenshot and showed 11 surveys. It showed that on November 28, someone using the name Pat McDermott requested that Ryan’s payment type change from debit card to direct deposit.
His account also showed that a member of L&I staff changed their payment type to a debit card on December 28. It was exactly one month after the potential hack and after Ryan filed his last benefit claim this week.
The state told 11 inquiries that the PA’s unemployment benefit system experienced an unprecedented level of fraud during the pandemic, and that this has recently worsened.
L&I spokesperson Alex Peterson said Pennsylvania’s system for UC claims filing uses numerous fraud detection measures, including virtual identity verification provider ID.me to verify identity. of all new job seekers.
Peterson also said the department has stopped more than $ 4.7 billion in attempted fraud in the past six months, but did not answer the question when asked how much was actually stolen and not recovered.
When 11 Investigates specifically asked if the state was the target of a breach involving Wells Fargo, another spokesperson sent an email saying: vacation. “
Thankfully, Ryan ignored pop-up requests on his account over the past month asking him to update his information. He believes this prevented the hacker from successfully switching payments from his debit card to direct deposit.
âThey needed me to verify my identity to prove that I was doing this,â he said.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s account has been flagged for potential fraud. He has received an identity theft notice from the state and instructions on what to do while the state investigates.
âCall (the) fraud hotline, then file a fraud report, then file a police report, then call the Pennsylvania State Treasury. I did them all, âRyan said.
Now he’s in limbo, his account frozen and his benefits shut down, awaiting answers.
âIt’s a bigger mess than they want you to believe,â he said.
If you think you may be the victim of fraud on your Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefit account, you can file a fraud report here or call the hotline for assistance at 1-800-692-7469 to leave a voice message.
- Take these additional steps to protect yourself from general unemployment scams:
- Never share your personal information by email, text or social media messages.
- Do not wire money and always ignore the following requests:
- Communications related to your UC benefit from someone asking for money;
- Someone who says they can help you apply for your benefits for a fee;
- Anyone claiming to work for L&I who says they need a fee to complete your application.
- Do not open or respond to unsolicited emails or text messages.
- Never share your personal information on any websites or social media, especially those that claim to be able to help you apply for UC benefits or resolve your issues. Third parties cannot claim your benefits.
- Do not rely on UC information from unofficial websites – always visit www.uc.pa.gov for information on the Pennsylvania Unemployment Program.
- If you need UC Benefits, always visit www.benefits.pa.gov and do not file a case on another site.
L&I makes regular announcements on its social media pages and website regarding new fraud tactics and other important information. Please follow L&I on Facebook and Twitter and check our website regularly for updates.