"If I'd have had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter" ~Blaise Pascal
If you are a resident of the great state of Colorado, you have an approximately one-in-five chance of having had a fraudulent unemployment claim filed in your name in the past year. It does not matter if you retired years ago, have never worked, are still working productively, or are dead… fraudulent claims can still be filed on your behalf. Indeed, several of our employees have been victimized, including yours truly, and I’m voracious about protecting my data.
Fortunately, unemployment fraud has become so common in our state its actually become something of a joke. Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reports that it has received more than 1.1 million fraudulent unemployment claims since the beginning of 2020 compared to just over 1.0 million valid claims. You read that right… more fraudulent claims than valid claims.
Unfortunately, Colorado is not alone, and other states are coming to realize the magnitude of the problem. While I admire their focus on getting the help to people that need it by paying first and verifying later, the system was opened up for abuse, and the weakness was quickly pounced on by scammers.
So how do you know if you’re a victim of unemployment fraud? First, don’t get too worried, as there is no reason to panic, and you are not alone. There are millions in the same boat. I can’t speak to other states, but in Colorado, several steps are available to resolve the situation:
You receive an unsolicited debit card from US Bank to load your unemployment benefits onto.
I got one of these, as did a coworker’s father, who had passed away several years ago. If this happened to you, fill out the US Bank Reliacard closure form here.
You receive a 1099-G for payment of unemployment benefits. These are hitting mailboxes now. The CDLE has provided a fraud update on their website and encourages you to fill out a “Report Invalid 1099” form here.
Your employer receives notice that you have filed for unemployment. This often comes as a surprise to them as they thought you still worked there. (how far are you taking this “work from home” thing anyway?)
Colorado has provided another page for you and/or your employer to report the fraud here.
These websites also contain many good suggestions for protecting your identity and your data… take a moment to peruse these, and take protecting your data seriously!
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