Why would someone apply for unemployment with my personal details?

About 10 days ago, my wife and I received separate notices from the Colorado Dept of Labor and Employment that they had received our unemployment claims. The notices had our correct full names in addition to obviously having the correct mailing address. Since both of us are still working at our employers of many years, we immediately followed the instructions for reporting the claims as fraudulent to the state, filed the FTC identity theft report, and filed fraud alerts at all the credit reporting agencies. A couple of days after that, the HR department at my company helpfully let me know that they’d received notification of my claim, and, since I was still employed as far as they could tell, that I should do all the things I’d already done. Today, we both got US Bank debit cards, which is how they send the money if one doesn’t provide a bank account for direct deposit, I guess.

So far, there have been no intrusions into bank accounts or credit cards, thank goodness.

I can understand the incentive to make a fraudulent claim for oneself. I can understand why one might try to use someone else’s information to redirect benefits to oneself. What I don’t understand is why one would bother making a claim that would send money to someone else who is sure to report it as fraudulent. I have an extremely undevious mind, and cannot see the upside for the criminal mastermind here.

Can anyone here explain the scam?

Maybe they were hoping to intercept the debit cards from your mailbox?

We saw a dramatic uptick in fraudulent unemployment claims here in Arkansas in 2020 and I understand other states did as well. It’s obvious there was some sort of data breach as we’d get upwards of 15 or so names from the state on a daily basis who were either former employees who hadn’t worked for us in years or current employees. The scam is that they’re hoping to get your check somehow. Probably by changing your address with Workforce Services or whatever they’re called in your state. Just remember that they probably have your Social Security Number so keep an eye out for someone taking loans on in your name or getting into your accounts.

The same thing happened to me recently, and I live in Illinois. The local sheriff’s department put out a press release that there were many such claims here. Whoever filed the fraudulent claim in my name used really old information. The address was a house I rented 20 years ago, but it is very near where I live now, so the postal carrier has been delivering all the paperwork to me, and not to my old address. I reported the fraudulent claim to the state and the FTC.

I’ve heard ads on the radio here in Tucson warning people to report unemployment claims they didn’t file for immediately, so it must be hitting across the country.

I don’t know all the details of it, but someone did this to my friend’s mother recently.

I do wonder now. I got a bunch of unemployment claims over the summer that seemed odd. People that hadn’t worked for me for quite a while, people that had quit voluntarily. I thought at the time that they were just trying to scam the system, but now I wonder if it was someone else filling out their claims.

Just some speculations.

They may be checking to see who reports the scam. They send out a hundred fraudulent applications. Ninety people are paying attention and report the false claims. The scammers disappear on those claims. But they can now focus on the ten unreported claims and figure those are safe to act further on.

Another possibility is this isn’t really about collecting unemployment. Perhaps they are just filing a fraudulent unemployment claim in order to create the necessary documentation to file a fraudulent claim to some other program.

I don’t know the scam, but I, an Illinois resident, got an unemployment debit card about four or five months ago from, you guessed it, Coloardo. There was no money on the card; I never applied for unemployment; I called them to cancel the card and sort things out as best I could. There were a number of news stories when I googled them at the time about fraudulent claims in Colorado, but I never figured out what the scam was because, as you say, what’s the point if I get the mailings about it?

Same thing happened to me in New York - only I got the letter and the debit card the same day. I assumed that whoever it was had plans to steal the debit card when it was delivered, but I have a locking mailbox. Not sure how someone got enough information to file a claim with my name and address - and I really don’t know how the Department of Labor couldn’t figure out that I am still working for a different state agency , nor how they approved a benefit based on an income that is close to twice what I earn (which makes me suspect that the social security number on the application was phony) when I got the letter/debit card over a month after the application date.

WildSpec: someone successfully applied for unemployment in your name and at the same time unsuccessfully tried to change “your” contact details.

I got my COVID vaccine Friday, and when I got to my appointment, the county hospital had a form for me with my personal information already filled in including my address and phone number…from 13 years ago. I’ve had any number of interactions with both private and public bureaucracies involving a change of address that took multiple attempts over months to straighten out.

Be on the lookout for people claiming to be officials ‘correcting’ the problem, and wanting to collect the cards; I’ve see scams like this (different context - mobile phone handsets) where the scammer manages to order something on your behalf, then calls to say it was an administrative mistake and take away the ‘erroneous’ items

This is apparently enough of a problem that recently I got, and I assume that most employers got, an email from Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) about these scams, and how they have opened a portal specifically to report them.

Also remember scam artists aren’t exactly top of the line criminals, and some of them simply read about a scam someone else did and tries it themselves. If it works great, if not oh well. Not every scam has a genius plot to it; some of the “WTF were they thinking” cases are simply opportunistic goofs giving something a shot without thinking it all through… the equivalent of people walking down the street trying car door handles.

Same thing both for me and my wife.

My guess was that if someone activates the card then the scammer can get in and claim card went missing switch info to them and to a different account.

IOW the scam requires the scammee to think of this as found money, government’s mistake as their gain.

No idea if that is correct.

Lots of good guesses here. Thanks for all the WAGs. And good call to not to activate the debit cards–which we wouldn’t have in any case–or give them up to unidentified “officials”.

I’ll be attending a Zoom presentation the state is giving tomorrow on identity theft (wheee!). With the FTC report made, we can put 7 year fraud alerts on the credit agencies, so hopefully there won’t be any loans taken out in our names. The only thing I’m mildly concerned about is Social Security fraud, given that they must’ve had our SSNs to make the claims (I assume?). I have established an online account already with the SSA which I check occasionally, so that may make it more difficult for them to steal my future benefits.

In some ways, modern technology has made identity theft much easier, but it’s also made it somewhat more convenient to identify and remediate. Wish I didn’t have to deal with it, still.

At least one report of

Or ask for the card itself, perhaps as part of their fraud investigation.

Key thing apparently is that since they have the contact information they can track and see which cards get activated and then continue the scam from there.

They are just fishing for people who are not paying attention. At first they will make some little purchase that won’t be flagged by your credit card company, and then when that goes through there will be a much bigger purchase.

My credit card company stopped my account and asked my about an $18 purchase in Florida. I am just about as far as you can get from Florida and still be in the US. A small purchase that goes through first.

May I ask which FTC report form you used?

I got one of those letters from Colorado saying that they’ve received my unemployment claim. On the FTC’s identitytheft.gov page, I followed the prompt for “Someone used my information to file for unemployment insurance,” and I end up at a form that asks for the name of the scammer. Obviously I don’t know the person’s name, because they’re pretending to be me.

I also filed a report with the state, but I’m a little perturbed that Colorado apparently isn’t providing any confirmation or followup. I realize that they’re swamped (this article in the Denver Post says they’ve received over a million fraudulent claims), but it would be nice to have some acknowledgement of my report.

Just provide the information you have. In this case, that someone filed with the CDLE. That’s all we had, but that’s sufficient to get a report number, which you need to get the 7 year fraud alert on the credit reporting agencies.

I got an acknowledgement from the state a week or two after I reported it. That included an invitation to a state sponsored web presentation on dealing with identity theft (which I registered for, put on my calendar, then forgot to attend). Point is, they will probably get back to you eventually.

My wife also found the instructions for contact BankOne to explicitly cancel the benefit cards we received, so apparently it is not sufficient to just cut them up or ignore them.

Still no evidence of tampering with any credit cards or financial accounts, so we’re having good luck so far.

The call center I work for is contracted to a major bank, servicing prepaid debit cards used for UI, among other things (no, I am not allowed to be more specific on any form of social media. People get fired for that).

We’ve seen situations where someone switches address on the account, then insists on a rush card to the new address.