Pa State Police warns of fraudsters applying for unemployment benefits from private sector data leaks

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HARRISBURG — On Wednesday, Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier joined officials from the Pennsylvania State Police and Department of Banking and Securities to make Pennsylvanians aware of fraud and how to find the warning signs.

“Fraud is an unfortunate byproduct of any disaster, and we are seeing the proof of that during
the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary Berrier. “It’s frustrating that thousands of data
breaches that occurred outside of L&I – and outside of the control of consumers who often had
no choice but to give companies their personal data – are now resulting in widespread
unemployment fraud attempts. We strongly urge everyone to remain vigilant about fraud and to
notify authorities of any suspected fraud activity.”

Across the nation, scammers have been applying for unemployment benefits by using stolen
identities obtained in data breaches that occurred outside of state government. Over 11,000 data breaches exposed more than 1.6 billion records in the U.S. over a span of about 15 years.

Many victims of these breaches are unaware until a fraudster uses their identity to apply for unemployment benefits, and they are notified about a benefits application filed in their name.

L&I utilizes numerous fraud-detection measures, including using virtual identity verification
vendor ID.me to verify the identities of all new unemployment applicants. The new UC benefits system has prevented approximately $1 billion in state and federal dollars from being paid out to fraudsters since it went live on June 8.

Anyone can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities with questions or
complaints about a financial transaction, company, or product at 1-800-PA-BANKS or using the
online complaint form.

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