The criminals exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to perpetrate this scheme are delaying crucial benefits and stealing from taxpayers
Washington, D.C. – In a letter to the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General (DOL OIG), U.S. Senator Susan Collins sought additional information on the efforts being taken to stem the large-scale unemployment insurance fraud targeting unemployment insurance systems in Maine and across the country.
In some cases, this scheme has placed delays on receipt of unemployment benefits for those in need while state Departments of Labor investigate suspected fraud. In addition, unemployed individuals may find themselves unable to access much-needed assistance if the scammers have already submitted a fraudulent claim in their name.
“The Senate Special Committee on Aging, which I lead, has a long history of exposing and fighting financial fraud. In the past seven years, we have held 25 hearings focused on financial fraud and scams. We have learned that these criminals will relentlessly exploit an emergency for their own financial gain,” wrote Senator Collins. “The recent increase in unemployment insurance fraud is no different. This scam involves criminals taking advantage of pandemic unemployment assistance programs by using stolen personal information to file fraudulent claims with state unemployment systems.”
To better understand the steps the DOL OIG is taking to raise awareness of this scam and the actions needed to reduce the likelihood of future fraud attempts, Senator Collins requested answers to the following questions:
- What information, if any, is the OIG able to highlight about these frauds that would be helpful to share with the people of Maine?
- Other than online fraud alerts, what steps has the OIG taken to raise awareness of this scam among businesses and workers, particularly in rural areas?
- When the OIG encounters individuals whose stolen information was used to file fraudulent claims, what steps, if any, does the OIG take to help these individuals safeguard their identities going forward?
- Has the OIG encountered any legislative barriers or resource constraints in its efforts to raise public awareness and disrupt scammers’ attempts to continue perpetrating this unemployment fraud? If so, what additional legislative authority and/or resources are needed to address these barriers?
- What actions can state unemployment systems take to reduce the likelihood of being targeted by a future unemployment insurance scam? What additional authority or resources, if any, are needed to make these changes?
Senator Collins’ Aging Committee releases an annual Fraud Book outlining the top 10 scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470).
Click HERE to read the full letter.